City settles sinkhole lawsuit

by Chris Peterson
Editor | June 24, 2020 7:19 AM

The City of Columbia Falls has settled a longstanding lawsuit with Badger Direction Drilling over a water line installation that ended up causing a sinkhole in U.S. Highway 2.

The case stems from an incident in August, 2011, when the city contracted Badger to drill a waterline under U.S. Highway 2 from a main near Super 1 Foods to the north that would ultimately serve the Timber Creek Village assisted living center.

Four years later, in February 2015, a sinkhole developed on the north side of the Highway. It was discovered that the water line had been drilled through a storm sewer main. The sewer main then collapsed, making a sinkhole.

The state, in turn, required the city pay for the repair, which it did, at a total cost of more than $176,000, as it had to have the water line re-drilled and it had to have the hole fixed.

On June 4, the city settled with Badger for $82,750. In addition Apec Engineering, which also worked on the project, agreed to pay $6,500 in the case.

Badger long maintained it didn’t know the sewer line was there when it drilled under the highway as it wasn’t properly notified. The city maintained the company could have easily seen there was a storm sewer there, whether it was marked or not.

The settlement requires that all parties pay their own attorney and court costs in the matter.