Crews repairing damage on highway in Knoxville after sinkhole

Published: Sep. 28, 2016 at 8:53 PM EDT
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A sinkhole opened up on the northbound lanes of Alcoa Highway early Wednesday morning. A water main break also occurred late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

All northbound lanes of Alcoa Highway near Cherokee Trail are shut down. One southbound lane remains open. Cars going northbound are being redirected to John Sevier Highway.

A KUB spokesperson says they are not sure what caused the water main break of if the break caused the sinkhole.

"We don't know if there is any direct correlation. We just know that we had the water main break and then there was the sinkhole after that. We are still just in the process of trying to work together. We are just trying to get our work done and get the water main break repaired so TDOT can get their work done and get the roads open as quickly as possible," says KUB communications manager, Leslye Hartsell.

At one point while they were excavating, TDOT says the sinkhole was around 30 feet deep.

The University of Tennessee Medical Center continues with normal operations.

A tweet from TDOT indicated crews expect the highway to reopen by Thursday morning rush hour.

A spokesperson for TDOT says this is one of the larger sinkholes they've worked in recent years. It's just one of several issues they've had on Alcoa Highway.

"For lack of a better term, there's all sorts of stuff going on on Alcoa Highway. We also have roadwork going on between Maloney and Woodson and in that area is where we've had rock-slides over the years. So, Alcoa highway is always one of those roadways we pay extra close attention to," says TDOT spokesperson, Mark Nagi.

An operations manager with Rural Metro says they are using alternate routes to get their patients to UT Medical Center. If their patient is critical, they say they will have a police escort on the shoulder of Alcoa Highway to get them to UT Medical Center as quickly as they can.

"We can do everything that an emergency room can do within the first 10 to15 minutes. However, there are things they need a physician for. If it's a trauama they need a physician. We can only sustain for a short amount of time and then they need a doctor. If there is any delay in that in some cases then it can cause some issues and it can be detrimental to the patient," says Ken Loftis with Rural Metro.

Loftis says they haven't seen any major problems, but they continue to keep an eye on the situation.