Yet another Oregon sinkhole has emerged, severely disrupting traffic on Highway 101 due to its gargantuan proportions.
For the last two months, Oregon has been battling sinkholes and landslides caused by heavy rain and violent storms.
One such slope failure in December claimed the life of an elderly lady and her canine pet, after her home located in Florence was flooded by debris and mud. Earlier that month, a female driver drowned in her car, after trying to cross an inundated road, and another woman died crushed under a tree.
A sinkhole also gaped wide open on December 13, in the parking lot of a diner from Harbor, Oregon, in the immediate vicinity of U.S. route 101.
At the time, the shakehole measuring around 7 feet deep was believed to have been caused by inordinate amounts of rainfall, coupled with underground gutter drainage issues.
Now it appears that the highway traffic is once again being perturbed, due to one more swallow hole which emerged recently in the same area, close to a Chevron gas station, eventually uniting with the prior cavity.
According to Jared Castle, a representative of Southwestern Oregon’s Department of Transportation, this new depression appeared after a recent storm which brought 1.5 inches of rain, and also triggered a landslide on a nearby road.
While it’s unclear for now what diameter the massive crack in the ground has reached, given that it’s constantly growing and growing, it’s likely that its tremendous depth already measures more than 60 feet, making the state route incredibly unsafe for drivers and their vehicles.
As a result, traffic on one portion of highway 101 had to be brought to a halt on Thursday, January 28, starting from 9 p.m., as workers are now struggling to contain the damage.
Instead, drivers are now being forced to use several surface streets, which are almost parallel to the state route. This detour will likely be enforced up until March, when the highway is expected to become secure enough to be opened again.
While the alternate route established for the duration of the closure will cause delays amounting to around 5 to 10 minutes, it will at least keep commuters safe, as they try to steer their vehicles along the enormous gaping hole, which is believed to be the largest reported throughout southwest Oregon in the last two decades.
Apparently, so far no one has sustained any injuries and no vehicles have been plunged into the depths of this new Oregon sinkhole. An evacuation order hasn’t yet been issued either, as officials believe the recently formed depression poses no risk to local communities.
Landslides and floods are a relatively common occurrence in the Beaver State, probably because of the region’s geomorphological structure, but in the last few months both the intensity and the frequency of such phenomena have escalated, resulting in human casualties and significant material damage.
Critics have been arguing that the portion of U.S. Route 101 known as Oregon Coast Highway Number 9 should never have been built there in the first place, given that the ground is extremely unstable and overly vulnerable to erosion and flooding.
Image Source: KGW