COARSEGOLD — A sinkhole that rather suddenly revealed itself in the southbound lane of CA-41 across from the Coarsegold Market on Tuesday night has been repaired. The lane will reopen this evening, about 24 hours after it was initially reported.
Caltrans spokesperson Corey Burkarth confirms that the sinkhole was first reported by a pedestrian to CHP at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, and within approximately 15 minutes members of the Coarsegold Maintenance Crew were on site. Not long after that, the crew placed a temporary steel plate over the sinkhole while the situation was being assessed. Initially, the opening was reportedly two to three feet wide. The southbound lane of CA-41 was rerouted in that area to the center turn lane and, other than that diversion, traffic remained free-flowing.
About 5 a.m. this morning the Coarsegold maintenance crew arrived and began to clean out the sinkhole to make an assessment of the situation. Crews identified a fiber line running under State Route 41 in a trench that was not properly compacted, allowing water to run erode the material in the roadway.
The Coarsegold Caltrans crew unveiled layers of road-building history as they cleared out the sink hole to a depth of about two feet, and passersby got a glimpse of how roads were constructed in the past 80 or 90 years, and how they’re made today.
Mom Amanda Leigh Cempa sent photos of her boy Jozef, 6 1/2, watching the action after they stopped for lunch at Robert’s Frosty.
“My son was really interested in what was happening. So we walked across and the Caltrans men were very sweet and allowed us to sit and watch.”
Clamper and local history buff Steve Schermerhorn told us the area repaired by Caltrans is in the same location as an old-time well, after the question was posed on social media as to what could have caused the damage.
Caltrans spokesman Burkarth says crew members did see evidence of what could have been an old well in the area, including a manhole cover. They did not, however, see anything that indicated the well would have played a role in the erosion that produced the recent sinkhole.
Emphasizing the persistence and hard work of the local crew, Burkarth says Caltrans workers have tremendous pride in the roads, especially in areas where they live, and the crew did good work. He added that the businesses in the area could not have been more gracious, and while most of the crew dined at Frosty, Burkarth has recently moved to the area from South Carolina and he had a shrimp Po’Boy at Coarsegold Miner’s Grill.
Once the crew was able to fully investigate the sinkhole, they began to fill it up by adding layers of base rock. Burkarth says it took about 90 seconds to fill the hole and then the concrete requires three to four hours to cure. That’s followed by the ashpalt crew who fills the last few inches and smooths it out, returning the roadway to full service.
There were no backups or delays as a result of the project due to the availability of the turn lane.