Culvert collapse on Independence street creating dangerous situation for drivers

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — One stretch of roadway in Jackson County is now dangerous to drivers because of all the rain we’ve had lately. Neighbors stumbled upon the culvert collapse along Jones Street this week.

Now, there are barricades and cones blocking off the hole that dives 12 feet down to Mill Creek.

Larry Helm and his wife first noticed a chunk of the street near their home missing on Monday. 

“It went all the way down to the creek and it was undercutting the pavement,” Helm said. “So, if a car had driven on that it very easily could’ve fallen into the creek.”

They decided to pull over, stay put and detour traffic until help arrived from the city to block off the road. 

“As we were standing there more chunks of the road were falling off,” Helm said.

To make matters worse, there’s a gas line directly under the asphalt that’s caving in. 

The recent storms caused a corrugated metal pipe to collapse. 

“As the water continued to flow through that pipe, it took a lot of the dirt as well, which caused the road to fail,” Independence Assistant Director of Municipal Services Rich Kemple said.

Kemple said there’s a cement culvert under the eastbound lane. So, cars are still safe to cross on that side and there’s no fear of collapsing. 

Kemple said the metal pipes used to be standard, and over time they can fail.

Incredible amounts of water make it worse. 

“Something goes from OK, to really bad, really fast when you start throwing a bunch of water through it,” Kemple said.

A dip in the street is a sign and could mean it’s the end of the road.

“So, if you start to feel the dip where you know there’s a culvert, give us a call and we can come out take a look, inspect it and make sure it’s safe,” Kemple said.

Kemple warns people to stay away from the part they blocked off. 

“The asphalt could give away, and you could fall in the hole. So please stay outside the construction tape,” Kemple said.

He alerted the gas company and said they made it safe for the time being. 

The city will keep the westbound lane closed until they finalize the plan to make repairs. The rain is slowing down the process, but the city said it’s working on it. 

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