The Exeter neighborhood off Battlefield Parkway in northeast Leesburg is seeing its second sinkhole in as many years.
Crews are at work at the scene on Jared Square NE. Residents discovered the sinkhole when they woke up this morning. The area is closed to vehicles, and workers are trying to determine the sinkhole’s impact on water and sewer service.
Leesburg Director of Capital Projects Renée LaFollette said a geotechnical team is tentatively scheduled to survey the sinkhole and determine its extent tomorrow.
“Once that’s done, that will determine the extent of what we’re looking at,” LaFollette said. “Currently, we do have sanitary sewer impact, but we don’t know how severe that is at this time.”
If the town sewer line in the sinkhole cannot function, she said, the 16 townhouses on Jared Square could be evacuated. In the meantime, the town is working to determine the damage to the line and asking residents in that area to minimize their water use. Two residents could also see their water service interrupted by the sinkhole.
LaFollette said there is no sign, so far, that the sinkhole, which is under asphalt, has undermined any of the townhouses.
“Right now all we believe that is impacted is the sanitary sewer and the water service connections, but until we do the investigation we really don’t know,” LaFollette said. “There are no superficial signals or signs that there is any impact back toward the townhouses.”
The neighborhood saw another sinkhole develop in 2015, within sight of the Jared Square sinkhole, under Currant Terrace.
LaFollette said she doesn’t believe there’s anything particular to the Exeter neighborhood that makes it more susceptible to sinkholes than any of the rest of Leesburg’s northeast quadrant—much of which is over limestone. Almost all of Leesburg is built over limestone, which can cause sinkholes when underground water dissolves the rock and carries it off, forming subterranean spaces and caverns.
The county recently sent $5.4 million to construction of a four-story parking garage by the existing Pennington parking lot off North Street in Leesburg after two sinkholes developed under its foundation.
In 2015, as now, the sinkhole developed after heavy rains.
“The weather that we’ve had the past month and a half, and then having an inch of rain in the past day and half, makes the conditions ripe for these types of things to occur,” she said.