State officials testing possible sinkhole today Depression on Route 31 is near McGregor Road

March 28, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Almost two years to the day since a Taneytown man died when his car plunged 18 feet into a sinkhole on Route 31 near Westminster, state highway officials are expected to begin tests today to determine if a depression discovered Tuesday could cause a similar collapse of the road.

State geologists have inspected the suspected sinkhole, on the westbound shoulder of the road, about a half-mile west of McGregor Road. The depression is 5 feet in diameter and TC inches deep, State Highway Administration officials said.

As a precaution, test pits were to be dug to ensure motorist safety and to collect data for SHA's sinkhole investigation program, officials said.

Traffic should not be affected, but motorists are asked to reduce speed, remain alert and use caution in the area of the tests.

Robert Wayne Knight, 25, of Taneytown was killed when a section of Route 31, also known as New Windsor Road, collapsed March 31, 1994. His van plunged into a gaping sinkhole.

The 1994 accident occurred near Medford Road, approximately a half-mile from the site of today's test site.

Mr. Knight's van was traveling west when it suddenly dropped into the 18-foot-deep sinkhole at 2: 30 a.m. and landed upside down. He was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died about five hours later.

State police and geologists said then that underground water from the nearby Medford Quarry had weakened the limestone under the roadway and created the sinkhole that measured 70 feet by 30 feet.

State highway crews filled that hole with 600 tons of rock from the Genstar Stone Products Medford Quarry.

Pub Date: 3/28/96

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