After experts determined that the exhibit hall at the National Corvette Museum is still safe for visitors, museum officials have retained a Bowling Green contractor to help them deal with the aftermath of a sinkhole that swallowed eight cars in the Skydome early Wednesday morning.
Scott, Murphy and Daniel will help come up with a plan to try and recover the historic Corvettes, estimated to be worth at least a million dollars, and rebuild the damaged portion of the museum, according to Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode.
“Safety will be paramount, but we will also want to save the cars as fast as we can,” Strode said.
Strode believes the black 1962 Corvette may be the easiest to remove from the hole, which the Bowling Green Fire Department estimated to be about 25 to 30 feet deep and about 40 feet wide.
After arriving at the museum Wednesday afternoon, Scott, Murphy and Daniel CEO Mike Murphy said he doesn’t know how long the work will take, though he told the Bowling Green Daily News that he knew it would be important to operate quickly and safely.
“We want to get a team of professionals assembled and go through everything,” Murphy said. “Reconstructing (the SkyDome) and getting it back in its final condition will be our ultimate goal.”
Strode is hopeful that the repairs can be finished in time for the museum’s 20th anniversary, which will be celebrated in August as the National Corvette Caravan – consisting of thousands of Corvettes convoying to Bowling Green from across the United States and Canada – comes to town. The museum also hopes to open the NCM Motorsports Park that week.
Jason Polk, professor of geography and geology at Western Kentucky University, believes the majority of the collapse has already occurred and that it was an isolated event.
A team of WKU students, faculty, museum employees, fire department members, and state environmental officials spent most of Wednesday inside the Skydome checking the damage.
Polk said they should ultimately be able to determine the cause of the sinkhole, whether it was recent rainy, damp weather or something else.
“We’ve been staying back and making sure that people are safe because that’s our primary concern at this point,” Polk said.
WKU civil engineering professor Matt Dettman said he believes the overall structure appears to be stable, though the wall of the sinkhole may develop a bit farther from the Skydome.
The museum plans to reopen the exhibit hall next to the Skydome today after structural engineers determined that the area was safe.
Strode said the Corvette community is saddened by the loss of the cars.
“Every car has a story behind it,” Strode pointed out Wednesday afternoon. “There’s been tears shed back there this morning.”
Nearly all of the cars in the Skydome not affected by the sinkhole, including a one-of-a-kind 1983 Corvette – have been removed, according to Katie Frassinelli, marketing and communications manager who said she was thankful that the collapse didn’t happen while the museum was open.
Here is the video from yesterday afternoon’s sinkhole press conference at the NCM:
BG Daily News
These are the Eight Corvettes that Fell into the Corvette Museum’s Sinkhole
[VIDEO] Corvette Museum’s Security Cameras Capture Sinkhole As It Happens
BREAKING NEWS: A Sinkhole Under the National Corvette Museum Opens and Swallows 8 Corvettes