Old railroad bridge and cavern discovered beneath busy road in Lancaster

LANCASTER, Pa. -- Construction crews discover a gaping hole beneath a busy road in Lancaster.

Officials say the 200 block of Lime Street is still safe to drive over, but something has to be done about it.

It's not just any hole; the void beneath that part of Lime is from an old railroad bridge which still stands beneath the road.

To some people, the discovery of this hole says one thing: Lancaster's railroad history runs deeper than even some of its modern roads.

"A lot of people did not realize that there are actually bridges under certain arterial roads in Lancaster City, including Duke Street, Christian Street, and Lime Street," explained Eric Conner, Assistant Station Master at the Strasburg Railroad.

Flashback to the early 1900's, he says a bridge on Lime Street carried traffic over the historic Pennsylvania Railroad.

"The line was lower than the streets so the streets needed bridges over the rails so, here we are," explained Conner.

Apparently, the space beneath the bridge was never filled in, which is news to Marianne Heckles

"I would feel a little more comfortable driving on it knowing there is a solid foundation underneath it, instead of just a cavity," said Heckles.

Heckles works for Lancaster History which provided FOX43 these old photos of the railroad.

"Interesting to see how this - their idea of filling in the cut wasn't entirely filling in the cut; they just kind of paved over it and filled around and let the rest go and they should it would be okay, but hey, we survived so," laughed Heckles.

Lime Street is owned and maintained by PennDOT. Beginning Tuesday, October 15th, crews will shut it down, cut holes into the old bridge deck, and pump a loose concrete material under the deck to fill in the hole.

"It is a sad thing to know it is being filled in, but I understand from the sinkhole perspective it's better to do it," explained Conner.

Conner says it is sparking interest in railroad history and that is something he is okay with.

The work will be completed during the day and Lime Street will remain closed at Chestnut, except for residents and businesses on that block, until Monday, October 21st.

All traffic will detour east to Broad and then north to Walnut.

Local traffic and residents familiar with the city are advised to seek alternate routes during this time, as Lime Street is a major northbound route for trucks and cut-through traffic, and slow traffic and backlogs are expected.

Questions or concerns should be directed to Matt Metzler, Deputy Director of Public Works, (717) 291-4777 or to PennDOT, David Thompson, District Press Officer, at dmthompson@pa.gov.

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