“Kind of a shock to us:” Water main break causes large sinkhole in West Allis

WEST ALLIS -- The intersection of 88th Street and Arthur Place in West Allis isn’t usually so busy.

“Normally it’s a nice quiet neighborhood," said resident Jeff Rabe.

But it became the center of some attention late Thursday afternoon, when a giant sinkhole formed in the middle of the road after a water main break. Tom Horstmeyer had one thought when he saw the 20-foot hole at the end of his block.

Sinkhole near 88th and Arthur in West Allis

“I was glad nobody came down the street and went into it," Horstmeyer recalled.

Rabe was almost that somebody. He and his wife went to an early dinner around 4 o’clock.

“The route we took was right over where the sinkhole ended up being," Rabe said. "So we were probably just minutes ahead of where that had happened.”

Fortunately, the worst thing he’s had to deal with was missing a day of work because his driveway was trapped behind a road block.

Sinkhole near 88th and Arthur in West Allis

“Normally see that on the news in California or somewhere else but [it] never quite hits home," said Rabe. "So yeah, that was kind of a shock to us.”

The water was shut off to some houses at 9 p.m. and turned back on Friday morning around 10 a.m.

Sinkhole near 88th and Arthur in West Allis

“We loaded up the tub so we could flush toilets," Rabe said. "Loaded up as many kettles as we had in the house because we didn’t know how many hours/days it would be off.”

Contractors arrived at 4 a.m. to start filling in the hole, repairing the storm sewer and patching up the road. They expected to have everything done by late afternoon, bringing closure to an eye-opening 24 hours in West Allis.

Sinkhole near 88th and Arthur in West Allis