- Department of Transportation officials got a
way-too-familiar phone call on Tuesday.
Another suspected sinkhole was reported along a
North Florida highway.
The latest highway to develop what appeared to be a
sinkhole is State Road 26 between Trenton and
Fanning Springs, near Lancaster Correctional
Institution. Drivers are encouraged to avoid the
area at least for today until testing can be
completed and decisions made on what may need to be
done. But there are no lane closures as of Tuesday
The DOT has become quite familiar with the process
because of the number of roadway sinkholes in recent
In May, a routine inspection of Interstate 75 turned
up a sinkhole on the outside emergency northbound
lane near the NW 39th Avenue overpass. It was about
15 feet wide and more than 70 feet deep and cost
about $83,000 to repair.
At the end of April, what initially looked like a
pothole on SW 34th Street west of the University of
Florida's Maguire Village turned out to be a
sinkhole that required lane closures until it could
During late March, a section of southbound I-75 near
Alachua was closed for more than a week, forcing
lane closures that snarled traffic for miles.
The sinkhole that made headlines nationwide was the
one that opened up in early March in Columbia County
and drained millions of gallons of water from a pond
and forced dozens from their homes on Pinemount
Road. That sinkhole was estimated to be 150 feet
wide, 275 feet long and about 50 feet deep and was
one of several that were discovered in Columbia
The latest area where a depression is suspected of
being a sinkhole is about 3 feet wide on the
westbound shoulder of SR 26 near the prison for
youthful offenders. It was discovered by employees
of Anderson-Columbia, the Lake City firm contracted
to resurface seven miles of the highway for $2.19
million this summer.
"This (westbound) lane had been repaved and
when the contractor went out there Tuesday and saw
it slumping - the pavement drooping down - they
called in the geotechnical experts," said DOT
spokeswoman Gina Busscher.
Binay Prakash, the geotechnical engineer for the DOT
in North Florida, was dispatched to the site and
agreed with Anderson-Columbia officials that test
borings were needed to determine the size of what is
believed to be a large, as yet-unseen underground
part of the sinkhole.
"This looks like what happened on U.S. 41 north
of Newberry earlier this year and that resulted in
lane closures for about three weeks because it was
under the road," Busscher said.
The area has a recent history of developing
sinkholes, according to Gilchrist County Sheriff
"They had two pretty good size ones open up out
there by the prison during the (2004)
hurricanes," Turner said.
Because the area with the latest suspected sinkhole
was being worked on under a construction contract,
Busscher said the contractor will make the
arrangements and pay to have the sinkhole repaired -
probably with grout - and the DOT will compensate
the contractor for the expenses.