OAKHURST – The Coarsegold Caltrans maintenance crew is on the scene of a sinkhole that opened up in Highway 41 near Hodges Hill Road in Oakhurst, and it appears this will be a “fairly major repair job,” says Caltrans spokesman Cory Burkarth.
Just after 1 p.m., reports came in about what was described as a “very deep hole” near Yosemite Gateway Restaurant several feet into the southbound lane, prompting the closure of that lane, and traffic control into the center divide.
A citizen first noticed the hole and reported it to a Sheriff’s deputy who notified CHP. The southbound lane was then closed down and Caltrans crews called out to have a look at the situation.
The crew opened up the damaged area, and found a void about 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep, across nearly the entire southbound lane. They set an 8×16 foot steel plate over the hole, and Caltrans crews will stay onsite overnight to ensure everyone’s safety. Traffic continues to be diverted around the hazard area.
Repairs are schedule to begin at 5 a.m. At that time, they’ll finish opening up the hole and pour in base rock, which will require 3 to 4 hours to set, says Burkarth. Then they’ll resurface the area, and expect to complete the project by Friday afternoon.
At this point, Burkarth says they’re know sure what caused the problem. There is a culvert in the area, but they’re not sure that’s the culprit.
“With all the heavy rains, the water could have just found a gopher hole and worked it’s way down,” he says. “That could actually cause a sinkhole of this magnitude.” They likely won’t know the exact cause until they get farther into the project.
“Traffic is flowing freely through the area, with no delays or backups,” says Burkarth. “We just ask motorists to be on the alert as we have maintenance crews working right up against traffic, but we don’t anticipate any road closures at this time.”
Agencies such as Sierra Ambulance, Cal Fire, USFS and the Madera County Fire Department are being notified of the traffic hazard so their emergency responders will be aware of the lane closure.