SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Heavy rainfall is giving travelers a peek of what is going on below the Ozarks.
A sinkhole on Interstate 44 is causing traffic tie-ups in Springfield. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), this is not the first time this has happened on the north side of the city.
“For us, we know the Ozarks is karst terrain,” said Hubert Heck, with Fantastic Caverns. “Meaning it is filled with lots of caves, springs, sinkholes. And actually, that area near the airport is a sinkhole plain.
Being a karst terrain is a great thing for Fantastic Caverns, a ride-through cave in Springfield, but it is frustrating for drivers.
Traffic got down to one lane on Interstate 44 once the sinkhole immerged. Sinkholes are not just holes in the ground, they keep going and lead somewhere.
“Sinkholes are pretty much a passageway, for water primarily,” said Heck. “It could be a small crack or crevice or it could be a large opening.”
With no way to get close to the highway sinkhole, Heck showed two much larger sinkholes inside Fantastic Caverns.
“So, we know a lot of the water that falls near the airport, it is making its way into sinkholes and eventually into Fantastic Caverns,” said Heck.
The rain is making the sinkholes more obvious and opening them up.
MoDOT feels it is safe to let traffic pass on Interstate 44 as long as it stays in the far lane.
“Fantastic Caverns was created over many lifetimes,” said Heck. “But, many lifetimes more, we will have other caves that we are just starting to develop based on the sinkholes opening up on the surface.”
Traffic on Interstate 44 west of Kansas Expressway narrows to one lane until just west of US 60, a normally five-minute drive now approximately takes 20 minutes.