With a huge cavern below, Brushy Creek homeowners on edge about foundation

Chamber of the cave found in a Brushy Creek neighborhood. (Courtesy: Cambrian Environmental.
Chamber of the cave found in a Brushy Creek neighborhood. (Courtesy: Cambrian Environmental.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Most of the massive hole at Cambria Drive and Ephraim Road that was wide open on Thursday has been boarded up. But through a small opening, three hydrogeologists descended upon an amazing view of the cave.

The cave, now dubbed Cambria Cavern, runs underneath three homes. Crews were able to map the cavern with a compass and laser range finder. They determined the cavern runs 170 feet east along Ephraim Road and 40-50 feet along Cambria Drive, starting in the middle of the road, about 20 feet west of the curb. At its deepest point where the ceiling collapsed, the cave is 22 feet.

Draft map of Ogof Cambria (Cambria Cavern) found in Brushy Creek neighborhood. (WIlliamson County)
Draft map of Ogof Cambria (Cambria Cavern) found in Brushy Creek neighborhood. (WIlliamson County)

“The area right where the utility lines were placed in, that is where they scored the ceiling of the cave so that weakened the top of the cave right at that point, everything else looks stable,” said Connie Odom, public affairs manager for Williamson County.

Crews boarded up most of the cave opening along Cambria Drive in Austin. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

But engineers have to verify that. Structural engineers were supposed to come out on Friday, but now neighbors will have to wait until Monday for them to get in the cave to see if any other areas are compromised.

“It would be nice if they could put some reinforcements in there, if needed, just to secure the area,” explains Michelle Mitchell who lives in one of the houses above the cave. “I want to know as a homeowner what to do to keep everything safe, to keep the foundation secure.”

Some other neighbors are now wondering if this cave or another, is causing problems in their homes. “Cracked tiles coming up every so often,” explains Reuben Vega. “I’m wondering if it’s related to this cavern that’s just been found, it goes in that direction towards my house.”

The neighborhood where the cave collapsed is about 30 years old, so those utilities were installed decades ago.

The county is working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to figure out the best way to repair the cave opening. The intersection is expected to remain closed for several weeks.

Three hydrogeologists measured the Cambria Drive cave Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

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