Park Service to investigate GW Parkway sinkhole

WASHINGTON — A sinkhole on George Washington Parkway closed part of the
roadway from Monday evening through Wednesday — and while people will soon
move on to other issues, the National Park Service wants to know why the
sinkhole happened and what lessons can be learned.

“There could be a lot of reasons. It could be the weather and excessive rain.
It could be the expansion of joints on the bridge. We want to determine what
happened here,” says Alex Romero, superintendent of the GW Parkway.

“Not only did the earth give way, but it’s also the abutment of the bridge
that was compromised,” he adds.

The Federal Highway Administration inspects the GW Parkway bridges every two
years and the other parts of the roadway every three years. But those
inspections only cover a sample of bridges and parts of the road.

Romero says he’s not sure when the Federal Highway Administration last
inspected the specific stretch where this sinkhole developed, although the
agency did complete an inspection and report earlier this year.

“Once we’ve finished the work, we’re going to sit down as an agency and look
at this incident. As far as maintenance and upkeep, I would say there is a
lot more to learn. We would have to gather up information and learn from this
situation,” says Romero.

Late Tuesday morning, NPS had a conference call with the Departments of
Transportation for Virginia, Maryland and D.C., as well as regional
transportation officials at the Council of Governments.

The agencies discussed how they handled the situation on Tuesday morning and
how to better disseminate the message across the region about what commuters
will face Wednesday.

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