A multi-million dollar water project in Charlottesville left a huge exposed construction hole in the city's Locust Meadows subdivision. It caught many off-guard and left parents worried for their children's safety.
A massive open and unprotected pit was an unwelcome surprise in Charlottesville homeowner Kristen Keena's backyard.
Keena stated, "I would describe it as a 20-by-30 foot open pit, 20-feet deep, straight-walled down."
This week Keena found her 10-year-old son playing at its edge. The safety fence was down and it was filled with water and cement blocks.
Keena said, "The danger is if a child falls in there and there's water in the bottom and they hit their head and end up face down, they're dead."
The hole was part of the $20-million Meadowcreek Interceptor Replacement Project.
Tom Frederick of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority stated, "Construction fencing, which is plastic fencing that safes up and secures areas of excavation was placed around this area, apparently at some point in time, we're not sure when, that fence may have been damaged or removed."
After our phone call Wednesday the orange fencing was repaired and the hole was filled in. Frederick is stressing safety over speed as the project moves forward.
"What we don't want is the aggressiveness to get the work done to take precedence over making sure there are regular inspections for safety and we're re-emphasizing that," he said.
Keenan says ensuring that safety will take more than a plastic fence. "I don't think anything would, frankly, I think they need to fill the holes as they go, they can't leave open pits in residential areas."
The RWSA is stressing that if homeowners see problem areas along the construction site that they report them to their tip line. That number is 434-972-1950.
The project is slated to be complete this summer.