Repairs on Corvette-Swallowing Sinkhole To Begin In November

Originally published by Hannah Lutz, Automotive News
October 17, 2014 – 2:55 pm ET

Construction to fill the massive sinkhole that in February swallowed eight Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., is scheduled to begin Nov. 10, the museum said.

National Corvette Museum officials met with construction personnel and engineers Wednesday to manage the plan for fixing the 40-foot-wide, 50- to 60-foot-deep sinkhole and rehabbing the Skydome building, the site of the collapse.

The $3.2 million project will include removing boulders, installing sheet pilings to block cave openings and filling the hole with about 4,000 tons of fist-sized stones.

The museum also will install micropiles spaced 15 to 20 feet apart at an average depth of 141 feet based on the structural engineering design, a museum statement said. This design guarantees that in the event of another sinkhole, the floor would hold. The museum expects construction to be completed by July, the statement said.

The sinkhole disaster has had a “tremendous impact on attendance,” executive director Wendell Stode said.

Attendance is up about 65 percent because of visitors who want to see the sinkhole.

“That aspect has been a positive, but a lot of worry and hard work has gone into getting to where we are today,” Strode said.

The museum plans to include the affected Corvettes as “part of an exhibit that tells a story of what happened,” Strode said.

The museum is exploring several options for sharing the story of the sinkhole disaster, including 3-D art and the opportunity to see down into the cave, the statement said.

The museum will exhibit three restored Corvettes and five unrestored Corvettes in the Skydome once construction has completed. Chevrolet restored the 2009 Corvette ZR1 prototype, nicknamed the Blue Devil, and the 1 millionth Corvette built, a white 1992 convertible. The museum agreed to oversee Chevrolet’s restoration of the 1962 Tuxedo Black Corvette that will begin Jan. 1, Strode said.

The National Corvette Museum is about a quarter mile from GM’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant, where Corvettes have been manufactured since 1981.

Six of the eight sinkhole Corvettes are currently showing in a safe area in the Skydome: the Tuxedo Black, 1984 PPG Pace Car, 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, 1993 40th Anniversary Ruby Red Corvette, 2001 “Mallett Hammer” Z06 and 2009 “1.5 Millionth” Corvette, the statement said. When construction begins, the museum will move cars into other public viewing areas until the Skydome reopens. There are currently about 70 vehicles on display and about 35 behind the scenes, Strode said.

“[The disaster has] certainly made all of us much more aware of the cave country we live in,” Strode said. “It’s common for this part of the woods.”

The National Corvette Museum’s location in south-central Kentucky contains many caves and sinkholes, known as karst topography. Mammoth Cave National Park is about 20 miles from Bowling Green.

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