Steel Sheet Piling for Restoration of Damaged Corvette Museum Underway
Back in February 2014, security cameras captured a giant sinkhole opening underneath the Skydome of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Skydome is the signature building of the Museum, 70 ft. in diameter and 90 ft. tall to the glass roof with a walkway around the perimeter for patrons. The museum housed 8 Corvettes valued at total of $1 million. Unfortunately, the sinkhole which measured 40 ft. in diameter and 20 to 30 ft. deep, managed to swallow all 8 cars. While restoration to the museum’s vehicles has grabbed most of the headlines in the subsequent months, engineers have been working hard to find a solution to fix/repair the floor of the Skydome.
Scott and Murphy Inc., an experienced foundation contractor out of Bowling Green, was selected to complete the difficult task of stabilizing and filling the sinkhole. Since the hole resembled a circle, engineers called for steel sheet piling to be driven around the inside circumference. They would cut off the tops of the pile, fill the hole and pour a reinforced concrete slab floor. However, because the soils conditions resulting from the collapse consisted of mostly concrete, rock and cobbles, there was no way to drive sheets deep enough to make the pile usable in the typical vertical position.
So the engineers came up with a rather unique solution. Instead of trying to drive the sheet pile in the vertical position, they decided to create a panel of three sheets interlocked together and lay the pile horizontally in the bottom of the hole to create a floor. The sheets, provided by Hammer and Steel, were overlapped in panels until it covered the entire bottom of the hole. The contractor then cut the panels of sheet pile to conform with the irregular sides of the sinkhole. The sides of the hole were then drilled with anchors and shotcreted for additional support. While this work is ongoing, once the floor of sheet piles is completed, the plan is to fill the sinkhole with rock, install micropiles and cap it with a reinforced concrete slab.