While some might have joked about installing a glass floor over the sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum’s Skydome, it has at least been discussed.
Mike Murphy, chief executive officer at Bowling Green construction company Scott, Murphy & Daniel, said he doesn’t know how serious the thought is, but it did come up. The sinkhole that swallowed eight Corvettes on Feb. 12 has drawn worldwide attention and many gawkers at the museum.
“We are going to be putting up a fence around the site today,” said Murphy, whose company is the general contractor on the project. The fence will be on the perimeter of the Skydome.
Because more crews set up Tuesday evening, the fence is important for safety and crowd control.
“We know that people are curious,” said Wendell Strode, the museum’s executive director. “So Mike put up a wall (at one of the entrances) that is essentially all glass so people can watch as work is being done.”
Strode said people can see a portion of the sinkhole through the glass.
The other entrance is walled up, but inside visitors will soon see photographs of the exhibit before and after the collapse.
“We also plan to have a television that we will have a live feed of the work going on inside the dome,” Strode said. “And periodically, we will play the security camera footage of the collapse.”
As for the work, Murphy said contractors have to build a small bridge over part of the museum floor, which is intact, and install a beam for added support for the upper part of the building so equipment can be used to rehab the site.
Murphy is amazed at the hole, mostly because it opened under the building, and because its much deeper than originally thought.
“It’s at least 50 feet deep,” he said. “Now that’s not the whole thing, just some parts of it.”
The speculation is that’s where the two Corvettes are that can’t be seen by any method of surveillance that’s been used.
As an example of how the cars appear in the hole to the onlooker, he tossed his wallet on the floor and leaned over it.
“That’s the perspective of what the size of those cars look like ... sort of like Matchbox cars,” he said.
It appears that as much as the equivalent of 300 dump trucks full of dirt washed out from under the museum, Murphy said.
“That left the top of the cave exposed, and it collapsed,” he said.
One of the cars, which was originally covered in dirt when the collapse was discovered, can be seen perched between two rocks, he said.
The conical shape of the dome shed water, which drained naturally through rocks and dirt around the perimeter of the museum.
Strode said if the original construction becomes a factor in the collapse, it would be something for the insurance company to deal with.
“They are going to pay our claim now,” he said.
National company Chubb and an agent from Van Meter were on the scene within hours.
“They have been great,” Strode said. “They said we were fully covered ... and let’s get her going. So getting this work done is going to be our total focus now.”
Crews at least initially know how they are going to stabilize the building so work can begin to remove the cars. But there are no definite plans for how to remove the cars or how to handle the crater once the crumpled Corvettes are out of the way.
“We’ve had two 10-hour planning meetings,” Murphy said, noting how nearly all his time has been monopolized by the project.
He was in another meeting this morning with crews, engineers and others at the museum.