An Oregon sinkhole closed down an entire state road in the town of Harbor. The sinkhole was caused by a landslide created by bad weather, and officials have estimated repairs to take at least a week, according to the Washington Post.
The sinkhole began about noon near a shopping center that runs parallel to U.S. 101. A landslide, about 60 feet from the sinkhole, started after a storm dropped about 1.5 inches of rain. Simultaneously, the sinkhole underneath a parking lot grew and ate up a portion of the Oregon highway.
“It’s massive. There’s just no other way to describe it,” Jared Castle, Department of Transportation spokesman for southwest Oregon, said in a statement. “It’s a monster,” he said. Officials did not know how big it was, but said its depth exceeds 60 feet.
The Oregon sinkhole has diverted drivers to another road. Transportation officials want to repair damage caused by the landslide first to reduce the detour time for motorists.
The hole came within feet of the Fireside Diner and Rice Bowl restaurants and ate portions of a parking lot. A manager for the dinner told the Pilot the staff were singing songs and making light of the situation.
“We’ve got a ‘peaceful, sinking feeling,'” Tharon Fox said. “It’s all good.”
There have been no injuries or evacuations, and officials have re-routed traffic to a detour that runs parallel to the Oregon highway, which Castle says will only add 5 or 10 minutes to drivers’ commutes. On Thursday, the ground became unstable after storms battered the local area.
Crews have been working to clear a resulting blockage in an underground drainage, which has forced water flows to find another way to the sea from the nearby hills and thereby created other such voids.
The sinkhole formed after a series of heavy rains pounded the Oregon coast, causing a landslide north of Harbor and shutting down other highways due to debris flow. Sinkholes and landslides frequently occur in the region because of the geology of the area, Castle said.
“It’s just part of the battle of having the Oregon Coast Highway located where it’s at. It’s a road built in a place where Mother Nature never intended for there to be a road,” he said.
Transportation workers have been “gently” trying to repair the Oregon sinkhole for the last month, but now are bringing in heavy equipment. The stretch of Highway 101 is expected to reopen by the late next month.