DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – A section of Pearl Street in downtown Darlington remains closed Wednesday, following a sewer main break that caused part of the roadway to collapse.
Officials are counting their blessings that no one was hurt after the collapse.
“It just decided to crumble,” explained Freddie Kinsaul. “It just decided to crumble.”
Kinsaul, the Director of Utilities at Darlington Water & Sewer, said the problem started over a half-century ago when clay pipes were laid beneath the streets of the city.
“Every old city has an issue with it,” he offered.
Those pipes–not as durable as the newer plastics used in recent decades–are prone to fail, weakening the roadway above. Kinsaul says that’s exactly what happened Wednesday afternoon.
“The fire department happened to be coming to Subway for lunch and after they drove by, they looked behind them and saw the street cave in behind the firetruck,” Kinsaul said. “Fortunately, behind the firetruck!”
Darlington firemen are unfortunately familiar with problems like this one.
Almost exactly a year ago in July of 2015, two large sinkholes opened at Wells and Orange Streets after the weight of firetrucks proved too much for the weakened asphalt below.
Kinsaul said though much of the pipe in the area has been upgraded to avoid such events, there’s still work to be done.
“It’s an issue,” he said. “There’s still a lot of 50 to 75-year-old pipe.”
Officials with SC DOT were prepared for a long night Wednesday. They brought out barricades and lights, prepared to work as long as they need to.
According to Lisa Rick, workers found another issue while fixing the road collapse and estimates the road wont be fixed until Friday morning at the earliest.