422 Sinkhole Update

Late Thursday, Sept. 14, State Representative Frank Ryan gave The Sun this update on the sinkhole situation on Route 422:

Shortly after I assumed office on January 1, my staff and I made an inquiry of PennDOT about what we perceived to be as an increasing depression on the site of the last repair on Rt 422. PennDOT was extremely helpful and immediately sent someone to assist in the investigation and repairs were made.
Approximately one month ago, work crews noticed a sinkhole near Route 422 near the site of the prior repair. The sinkhole started the increase in size and depth within days.
North Londonderry Township, the county, and PennDOT have been working very closely together as a fix is being developed.
It is interesting to note that this site has been the location of sinkholes since the 1930s. PennDOT spokesman said that their engineers have been brainstorming about what to do about this persistent sinkhole problem.  They have been looking for a more permanent fix for the past dozen years.
Jon Fitzkee, the assistant director/Senior transportation planner of Lebanon County, was able to provide us with the site map of the problem which gives a very clear depiction of the affected area.
This week, we received this update from PennDOT.
First, we were assured that the repair work on Route 422 is progressing. It has not been halted as some people may have heard.  The contractor is J. D. Eckman Inc. and they are continuing to work to repair the highway.
Second, you may have heard that there is asbestos in the pavement.  There is because that was a very common building material in the 1960s and 1970s according to PennDOT. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was notified by PennDOT as work began to ensure that the community is protected. This is why you will see workers properly suited and that the area will be wetted down to prevent any contamination while pavement is disturbed. We have been told that the workers operating will all wear protective clothing and that any excavated material will be hauled to a landfill to protect the community.
It is important to note that there is no asbestos in the surrounding properties.

As of the week of September 12, PennDOT provided this update:
As for our work this week, we flushed both sinkholes with water on Tuesday to clear out loose material and see if we could locate the throat openings of the sinkholes… We also finished locating the underground utilities. We are now replacing a parallel storm water pipe on the south side of Route 422. We will also replace the cross pipe from the north side to the south side under Route 422 before our excavation starts on route 422. In preparation for excavating Rt 422 we have also begun saw cutting the pavement. Excavation of the affected portion of the parking lot from the bowling center has also begun. However, we notice that the sinkholes in the parking lot have subsided another 3 feet, and we are consulting further with our geotechnical experts.
We were told to expect that the work would be completed by Thanksgiving.
On a personal note, our office is extremely concerned about the impact that the closing of 422 has on the residents on the detour route as well as the residents and businesses on the affected part of the road. I am extremely concerned about the long-term impact on the economy of our area particularly if the root cause cannot be determined.
I have begun working at the state and with local officials to see what other options we may have to ease the financial burden on the community and our residents.  Many thanks to North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County and PennDOT for their tremendous cooperation during this difficult time.
I will keep you posted.
Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) represents the 101st District in the PA House of Representatives. He can be reached at

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