Caves, large rocks cause construction delay

A picture obtained by KXAN News of a cave discovered during construction near McNeil High School.
A picture obtained by KXAN News of a cave discovered during construction near McNeil High School.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A construction project in northwest Austin is hitting a snag, with the discovery of caves.

Crews are working on a project in front of McNeil High School meant to bring water to the northern parts of Austin.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Central Texas Caves

  • Caves are nothing new to central Texas.Many of them, like the five in this construction project, are being discovered during road construction.
  • Last summer, KXAN News showed you a cave along 620 in Williamson County.Crews were widening the road but had to stop when they found a cave some 100 feet long, 60 feet wide and as deep as 20 feet.
  • One of the most popular caves in our area is Inner Space Caverns, a tourist attraction in Georgetown.It was discovered back in 1963 when I-35 was first being built in central Texas.
  • Why so many caves?
    The reason Texas has so many caves is because of limestone under the ground. Over thousands of years, water can wash away the limestone forming caves.Across the state, researchers know of more than 3,000 caves, covering about 20 percent of Texas.

“The latest cave was approximately five feet deep by 25 feet wide, which is pretty significant when it comes to caves,” said Courtney Black, a spokesperson for the Austin Public Works Department.

“Definitely didn’t expect it to be over here,” said Armando Roman, who lives near the site. “I drive past here everyday.”

You can’t blame Armando for not knowing about the caves, neither did the construction workers.

Now, crews are trying to catch up on time.

“So the only thing it affected was, generally speaking, the timeline, which probably pushed it back a couple days,” said Black.

Black says when a discovery like this happens, the site has to have a kind of environmental assessment.

Black also says crews do geological survey before starting a project like this. Still, sometimes they don’t truly know what’s underneath the ground until they start digging.

Crews expect to open a second entrance to the high school this week.

Although the one cave may not cause too much delay, the project near McNeil High School is about two months off schedule.

The city attributes that to caves and dense, large rocks.

School at McNeil High School starts on August 26th.

The project would have originally ended about a week later, on September 1.

Now, the construction will keep going for more than two months into the school year. It is supposed to wrap up by November 1.

Austin will be helping direct traffic before and after school, according to a city press release.

Money from the Austin Water Utility is supposed to pay for the $21 million project.

Click here for more information about the project.

 

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