Corvette Museum releases labeled photo from inside sinkhole

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WDRB) -- Twice a day, surveyors are measuring the National Corvette Museum to make sure no more of it falls into a giant sinkhole.

On Monday, they set a timetable for making repairs in two to three months, while tourists come and go.  The museum remains open for regular hours with the damaged area off-limits to the public.

It seems the whole country now knows what happened when the sinkhole opened beneath the museum's Skydome display area at 5:39 a.m. on February 12.

In seconds, eight classic and irreplaceable Corvettes had dropped some 40 feet in the ground. Media attention was fast and intense.
"Everybody wants to know what it's going to take to get them out and when you're going to get them out," said Mike Murphy, the CEO of building contractor Scott, Murphy & Daniel in Bowling Green. 

It's the job of Murphy and his company to reinforce the building and figure out how to remove the cars with what will require surgical precision.

The eight cars rest in the sinkhole in three layers.  The top cars might be easiest to remove. Further challenges come with the second layer and beyond.  One cannot see the bottom cars beneath the dirt.

"We will have to do some stabilization of the soil in the banks around those cars before we go back down, and we will try to vacuum the dirt from around those cars and extract those cars from the earth," Murphy said.

Overall, it might take two to three months to restore the building and retrieve the cars, Murphy said.  He did not expect any removal of the cars to begin for two to three weeks.

"We've had lots of offers of help," Murphy said.

Crews already have removed panels of the Skydome to allow heavy equipment access.

"We were lucky the sinkhole occurred within the structure and not underneath the structure, so it is still intact and in good condition. But we do want to ensure that foundation is stabilized even more," Murphy said.

The museum's Facebook page says that it might allow visitors to view the sinkhole through a window.  

It comes as the museum asks for donations so that construction work is finished well before a 20th anniversary week this summer.

Murphy said tests show another collapse is unlikely, though it can't be ruled out completely.

General Motors said last week it will restore the damaged cars.

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