Sinkhole forms near Strasburg

Virginia Department of Transportation personnel and contracted crews look on as a truck pours concrete into this sinkhole on Route 629 (Oranda Road) near O-N Minerals (Chemstone) near Strasburg on Thursday. The sinkhole discovery on Wednesday afternoon prompted closure of part of 629. Detours are set up for passenger vehicles on Routes 660 (Timberlake Road) and 622 (Clary Road). Commercial vehicles are being re-routed along the John Marshall Highway, Route 622 and Route 631 (Pine Grove Road). Rich Cooley/Daily

A sinkhole discovered Wednesday afternoon has closed part of Route 629 (Oranda Road) near Strasburg.

Crews were excavating Thursday morning at the site of the sinkhole off the shoulder of Oranda Road between Route 660 (Timberlake Road) and Route 622 (Clary Road). The area is less than a mile west of U.S. 11 and near Carmeuse Lime & Stone.

The hole measured 15 feet by 15 feet across and was 20 feet deep, said Sandy Myers, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“They filled it up with stone and concrete and are letting it cure,” Myers said.

Crews will check the repair Friday, and if it looks sound, the road will reopen to traffic, she said.

The cost for the repairs is not yet known.

It appears to be the same location, or close to the same location, where a sinkhole opened up in June 2011. It was the third time in two years that a sinkhole had formed there, forcing the road closure and expensive repairs. The sinkhole in 2011 measured about 20 feet deep and 15 to 20 feet across, according to past media coverage.

Detours around the closure were set up for passenger vehicles on Route 660 and Route 622. Commercial vehicles are being routed along the John Marshall Highway, Route 622 and Route 631 (Pine Grove Road).

Myers said it is impossible to pinpoint what could be causing the formations of sinkholes in the area.

“You can never point to a cause,” she said.

Shenandoah County Administrator Mary Price said she did not know why sinkholes keep forming in the area or whether a report has ever been conducted. She did have a personal thought.

“We have a very karst terrain, we are surrounded by caverns,” Price said.

Karst describes a distinctive topography commonly associated with limestone and dolomite rock that indicates disintegration of underlying soluble rocks by surface water or groundwater, according to the USGS Geology and Geophysics website.