Monster sinkhole swallows part of Dubuque street - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Monster sinkhole swallows part of Dubuque street

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A sinkhole swallowed part of Ramona Street in Dubuque this month A sinkhole swallowed part of Ramona Street in Dubuque this month
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

One Dubuque neighborhood is dealing with a shocking surprise it received this month, when a giant sinkhole swallowed up an entire portion of the street.

Eighteen-year-old Hampton Schrodt and his parents moved into their Ramona Street house just last month. They now have a monster sinkhole the size of a two-car garage at the end of their driveway, where a road should be.

"I did not think it was going to be that big," Schrodt said, standing in his front yard Wednesday afternoon, staring at the sinkhole. "It wasn't even this big yesterday, so it's pretty crazy."

Nobody was injured in the appearance of this sinkhole, as it was discovered relatively gradually.

"When we moved in, we noticed there was a divot in the ground and we weren't supposed to park on it, and we didn't really know what was going on," Schrodt said, describing the sinkhole area at the time his family moved to Ramona Street last month. "Then, like, a week or two later, (the city) started digging up the street."

This sinkhole busted a city sewer main and the water and sewer lines serving Schrodt's house.

"It shut the water off for awhile," Schrodt said. "We had to shower somewhere else."

City crews ended up excavating a whole chunk of Ramona Street in order to expose the entire circumference of the sinkhole. On Wednesday afternoon, workers were filling the gaping hole with sand and water, to fill any remaining cracks in the ground. They'll continue filling the hole with rocks and other fill materials until it's solid and stable.

Dave Fondell has worked in the excavation business in Dubuque his whole life and was on site Wednesday afternoon. He said sinkholes are just a part of living in the area.

"Some of the stuff is caused by old lead mines, mine shafts," Fondell said, standing in front of the Ramona Street sinkhole. "This one's just an old crevasse in the ground that years ago was open. People threw rubbish and crap in it. Then it got covered over and it sat still until this winter."

Over the years, sinkholes have appeared in private yards and public streets all over Dubuque. Lead mining was a big industry in the area, and many old mine shafts got capped in the 1800s but never filled. Those, plus natural caves and crevasses, can erode over time, resulting in sinkholes.

"It's a horrible expense for the city and the taxpayers, but it's not controlled by anybody; it's nobody's fault," Fondell said. "It's just living in America, I guess."

Bob Schiesl is assistant city engineer for Dubuque. He said the sinkhole should be filled in and the street open once again by the end of the week.

In the past five years, Schiesl said, the city of Dubuque has repaired damage from four or five sinkholes. That doesn't include holes on private property.

Big sinkholes, such as the one on Ramona Street, can cost taxpayers a minimum of $15,000 to $25,000 to fix, Schiesl said.

He added there are no official historical records of where old mine shafts are located. Some history enthusiasts have come forward over the years with maps dating back to the 1800s, Schiesl said, but the city doesn't keep a record of where all the old mines are located.

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