A sinkhole on Oregon some are calling a “monster” caused the closure of a major coastal road earlier this week. The void is the largest one seen in southwest Oregon in almost 20 years and is the second one to appear in less than two months.
Measuring 80 feet around and as deep as 60 feet, the Oregon Department of Transportation was forced to close a portion of Highway 101 in Harbor, Oregon on Thursday. Officials fear the new sinkhole will continue to widen and has most likely connected to another sinkhole that first opened up in December.
Jared Castle, Oregon DOT spokesman for southwest Oregon, said the hole is possibly undermining the integrity of the highway.
“It’s a monster for sure. This is a very unusual event and is a sinkhole of a magnitude that we don’t see but once every couple decades. It’s a road built in a place where Mother Nature never intended for there to be a road.”
No injuries or damage to any cars has been reported. So far, the sinkholes have caused only minor traffic delays as drivers re-route to other roads.
Just before the sinkholes appeared, a series of storms dumped substantial amounts of rain on the Oregon Coas,t which triggered several landslides and other road closures in the area. According to Castle, the natural geology puts the area at a higher risk for sinkholes and landslides.
To get traffic flowing smoothly again, Oregon DOT’s first task is to completely re-build nearby Shopping Center Avenue as the roadbed and soil are entirely eroded away. Castle estimates that is would take over 65,000 cubic yards of earth to fill the hole back up and secure the adjacent slope.
As reported by the Washington Post, the original Oregon sinkhole opened up on December 13 alongside Highway 101 in a parking lot between the Fireside Diner and a Chevron gas station after a period of heavy rain. Originally, it was just seven feet deep and about the width of a volleyball, but the void continued to grow underneath and eventually collapsed.
The sunken earth has forced water flows to re-direct from the nearby hills, which has created other holes in the area. “Basically, it’s like flushing a bunch of Legos down your toilet,” Castle said.
The last time a massive sinkhole in Oregon appeared in the southwest region was in 1996. On an early November morning that year, a massive hole opened up without warning disintegrating the road above and pulling two unsuspecting tractor-trailers 50 feet into the ground.
Sinkholes like the ones in Oregon typically open up quickly and create chaos in the local community. Scientists believe they are a natural process of erosion from underground water and are reported to occur all over the world, especially in the United States.
On a Saturday night in early November, a sinkhole outside an IHOP restaurant in Meridian, Mississippi opened up unexpectedly in front of stunned customers. As reported previously by The Inquisitr, witnesses heard a series of loud booms, then the electricity went out.
Looking outside, customers observed a huge 50-foot wide by 600-foot long hole abruptly open up and swallow several cars parked outside. At first, many patrons thought it was an earthquake. Investigators believe the hole was caused by a storm that dumped 10 inches of rain in the area.
As for the first sinkhole in Oregon, the DOT has been trying to fix it for the last few weeks without making it worse, but now needs to bring in more equipment. They plan to have Highway 101 open again sometime in March. However, as weather forecasters are predicting more rain for the area, the two huge holes are likely to keep growing.
[Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation/AP Images]