Athens Replacing Storm Tunnel At Risk Of Collapse

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The city of Athens will spend over a half-million to replace a storm tunnel under a busy street that could collapse into a sinkhole. 

The tunnel runs under Shafer Street between Byard Street and West State Street. The situation is due to the floor being out of the tunnel, causing the water in heavy rains to flow outside the tunnel and allowing a potential collapse. 

The project is on a time crunch in order to be completed before the cold weather comes, said Athens Service Safety Director Andy Stone.

“It’s urgent enough that we need to act this year, and if you backward plan from when the asphalt plants shut off for winter I would need to get it done and paved back by November 15,” he said. “It will be fine as long as we aren’t having major rain events, but if we do, the potential for a collapse is there.”

The construction will cost around $600,000 but will provide a long-term fix.

“This ultimately will make it last for another 90 years probably,” Stone said. “It drains a significant amount on the West side, so it’s an important part of city infrastructure.”

The City Council rushed the project through to get a quick start on the two-week bidding process.

Once the construction starts, it’s expected to last all of September and wrap up in early October.

Stone hopes the road is wide enough to keep both lanes of traffic flowing, but will most likely shut down one lane of traffic.