OCEAN CITY — An eight-foot hole, or pavement void, in the eastbound lane of the Route 90 bridge discovered last Thursday has been repaired and was likely caused by excessive erosion under the span, according to State Highway Administration (SHA) officials this week.
Late last Thursday, SHA officials reported a pavement void, estimated at around eight feet deep, was discovered in the eastbound lane of the Route 90 bridge closest to the approach to Ocean City. While the hole was estimated at around eight feet deep, the actual hole in the surface of the roadway was about the size of a large man-hole cover.
SHA crews immediately began emergency repairs once the hole was discovered including the installation of steel plates on either side of and across the pavement void on Thursday afternoon. Route 90 remained open during the emergency repairs with one lane operational and flagger crews directing traffic.
On Friday morning, the flagging operation resumed as crews closed one lane at a time on the eastbound side of the span while a permanent repair was undertaken. SHA crews began excavating the area around the hole and filling it with concrete. By late Friday, the hole was repaired and normal traffic patterns resumed.
SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer said this week it was uncertain what caused the sudden hole on Route 90 but suspected it was likely caused by prolonged and undetected erosion under the road surface.
“It was probably caused by water washing under there for a long time that eroded the ground under the hole,” he said. “We were lucky it was discovered and wasn’t more extensive than it was, and we’re lucky nobody drove into it before we discovered it and repaired it.”
In the 48-hour period leading up to the discovery of the hole, the region experienced torrential downpours, although Drewer said the heavy rains were not likely the immediate cause of the hole in the road surface.
“That might have contributed to it, but more than likely it had been eroding for some time and it finally gave way,” he said.
Drewer said the repairs are complete and the Route 90 road surface has been deemed safe. He said there were no plans for further inspection of the road surface on the spans.
“There really is no way to detect these things,” he said. “Short of digging up the road surface and checking out what’s going on underneath, there isn’t any good way to detect erosion, so we just have to wait and see and hope we don’t have another one.”