MIDWEST CITY — Crews were clearing away debris and formulating a plan Monday for fixing a 200-yard-long hole that opened up on a major roadway because of a barrage of torrential rains during Friday’s storms.
The heavy rains caused a segment of NE 23 to crash and crumble under the floodwaters into a major sinkhole near Air Depot Boulevard.
Only after waters receded did city officials and residents notice the highway had partially collapsed into a muddy red ravine measuring 200 yards long, 60 feet wide and 15 feet deep.
“I’ve never seen it this bad before,” said Robert Washington, owner of a muffler shop located across the street from the sinkhole. Washington has worked in the area for 31 years.
“I’ve seen it flood before, but never like this,” he said.
Midwest City commuters and business owners like Washington are not alone in dealing with traffic backups from the flooding. Drivers and city officials across Oklahoma County experienced the headache of assessing rain-thrashed and washed-out roads Monday, including the area where one motorist died in a collapsed bridge over the weekend.
The state Transportation Department issued an emergency declaration for U.S. 62 in Oklahoma County because of the collapsed shoulder and right of way. Crews worked to assess the damage caused from the sinkhole, which continued to erode and expand Monday afternoon along NE 23.
“We are hoping to have repair work started within a week,” said Brenda Perry, spokeswoman for the Transportation Department. “We don’t know who the contractor will be at this point.”
Crews narrowed the normally four-lane highway to one lane open in each direction between Sooner Road and Air Depot Boulevard. Perry said the possibility remains the road could be completely closed at some point.