Sinkhole the size of four football fields devours huge swathe of Ohio in MINUTES... and it's getting bigger
- Sinkhole was likely caused by company dredging sand in 50 feet deep
- Transportation officials expect road to be out for months
- Bridge may be built to cross the area
A rapidly expanding sinkhole in Ohio was so monstrous that it took just minutes to swallow four football fields worth of land and part of a state highway.
Authorities say the sinkhole began with the collapse of a pond near State Highway 516.
The pond and land belong to the Newton Asphalt Company which has been dredging for sand at depths of 50 feet.
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Gone: In just minutes the sinkhole consumed four football field's worth of land and a chunk of highway
Shocking: Engineers said that sinkholes of this magnitude almost never happen
Sunk: Engineers believe sand dredging pulled away the slope and caused the sinkhole
'I’ve worked for the [Ohio Department of Transportation District] 16 years and I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude,' District 11 Director Lloyd McAdam told First Coast News.
'It’s very unusual that something like this would happen.'
'It appears to me that dredging took away the bottom of the slope and that probably eroded away and started cascading down, and just started filling the hole and filling the hole,' McAdam told the station.
One man nearly drove into the hole it was collapsing so rapidly, said Hank Rutkowski, a mechanical engineer who works near the site.
Trap: Eyewitnesses said the sinkhole happened so fast one man almost drove into it
On the edge: Engineers are still unsure how stable the remaining land is
Go around: Repairs to the roadway should take months
'There was a car coming down this road right about at the end when it was still driveable,' Rutkowski said. 'That person might have been lucky.'
McAdam said repairs would likely not be made until 2013.
'It's going to be a while before the road is open because this is a significant fix, and we're entering the winter season where not a whole lot of construction can take place,' he said.
Hank Rutkowski, a mechanical engineer who works only a few hundred yards from the sinkhole, told WKYC that he and a colleague sprang into action after a man who works in the same building began driving towards the rapidly forming hole.
Dredging: The Newton Asphalt Company was dredging for sand at depths of 50 feet at the site
Collapse: The sinkhole started when a pond near the highway collapsed
Wrecked: Engineers are considering whether to build a bridge over the affected areas
He told said: 'There was a car coming down this road right about at the end when it was still driveable. Mike started waving his arms to stop traffic. That person might have been lucky.'
The road will have to be closed for months while engineers determine the best way to make permanent repairs.
In the meantime, engineers will continue inspecting the sinkhole and consider whether there should be bridge built over the affected land.
Until the road can be repaired traffic will be detoured on State Route 39 and State Route 93 as well as local detours.
Transportation officials warn motorists these detours will likely be in place for months.
Closed: Transportation officials said detours will be in place for months until repairs can be made
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