Work stopped on Cambria Drive cave after discovery of new chamber

Construction to fill in the Cambria Drive cave has stopped after workers discovered a new chamber there. 

That puts the November completion date to re-open Cambria Drive on hold until environmental consultants can come up with a plan.

“We were using some small rocks, gravel size rock, so that was creating a base layer basically to create a level floor that was covered with fabric and then we were starting our first layer of concrete when they saw the void in the wall,” said Connie Odom, Williamson County public affairs manager.   

As soon as crews found that one-foot wide hole in the cave's wall, all their plans were put on hold until it could be fully explored.

“Our environmental consultants and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality were out Thursday morning. As they explored the cave, they found that it goes about 45 or maybe 50 feet out towards Ephraim Road. It actually appears to stop right where we have our barricades set up now,” Odom said.   

The new chamber has two levels, a nine-foot-tall upper level and a three-foot-tall lower level. 

“Right now, we are working on what our plan is going to be going forward. It may be that they need to do further exploration, but it's really too early to see that right now,” said Odom.   

The Cambria Drive cave was discovered after a water pipe broke and exposed an opening to the now five chamber cavern. Odom said the Cambria cave has never opened before. 

Neighbors, who spoke to FOX 7 Austin off camera, said there was another cave discovered just on the other side of Ephraim Road in the 1980s. In fact, an article from a December 1986 issue of the Texas

Caver appears to show a map of that cave. 

Odom explained, "cave experts said it is not the same cave, but shows that caves are not unusual in the area." 

“The Brushy Creek MUD maintains about 40 caves of their own, a lot of the parks around here actually have karst features in them,” said Odom.  

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said, "Regulated activity near the void may not proceed until the agency has reviewed a geologic assessment report prepared by the responsible party's geologist, and approved the methods proposed by their Texas licensed professional engineer to protect the sensitive feature (void) and the aquifer from adverse impacts."  

Because of the new discovery, there is no longer an estimated completion date to reopen Cambria Drive. 

“Up until this point, we were doing really well and construction was going very smoothly and quickly so it's hard to say how it might impact the date of when this is all finalized,” Odom said. 

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