The bad news is part of Meeting Street has sunk.
The good news is the ground’s not going to open up and swallow us. You’re safe there now; you just can’t drive on that part of the road.
S.C. Department of Transportation officials first noticed the sinking road last August, after digging began at the construction site of the new Brookland development near the corner of Meeting and State streets in West Columbia.
Thousands of vehicles daily travel that stretch of Meeting Street just on the west side of the Gervais Street bridge, according to SCDOT counts. It’s a major thoroughfare into downtown Columbia.
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Brookland is one of the biggest developments underway near downtown, expected to bring new businesses and residents to a riverfront area that’s quickly becoming an extension of downtown activity.
Digging at the Brookland site caused the sidewalk and road to lose support from the soil that was moved, said Robert Dickinson, the District 1 engineering administrator for SCDOT.
The sidewalk began to dip, and a crack opened up in the asphalt in the eastbound right lane.
“Basically, their construction wasn’t done quite right to keep that slope from moving,” Dickinson said.
Dave Skinner, director of field operations for Carter & Carter construction, which is working on the Brookland site, told The State on Thursday he could not comment on what’s happening with Meeting Street.
The cracked portion of the lane and sidewalk has been blocked off with traffic cones for several months.
Transportation officials have continued to monitor the sinking site. For at least a couple of months, the crack doesn’t appear to have grown any larger, showing the ground has probably stabilized, Dickinson said.
Any continued growth of the crack would be subtle and gradual, Dickinson said, not a sudden, dangerous opening up.
It’s not clear how long that portion of the road will stay cracked and undriveable.
It’s up to the construction contractor to pay for and fix the sinking problem, Dickinson said. But transportation officials haven’t gotten an answer as to when that might happen.
“We’re most concerned about the safety of the public, and our next concern is getting (the road) back opened as soon as possible,” Dickinson said. “Not fixing this would keep (the developer) from actually finishing their project.”