Hole forces Gilbert road to shut down

Posted at 4:21 AM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 20:56:17-05

Crews in Gilbert are working to determine what caused the road to collapse and form a hole that swallowed a pick-up truck Monday night. It happened on Greenfield Road between Queen Creek and Germann Roads. 

The driver, a man in his 20s, was able to get out on his own unharmed. The hole is 50 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 10 feet deep.

Crews worked through the night to remove the truck from the hole, and they continued working into the day to figure out why the ground opened up.

“Our public works department is out here working to figure out the cause and determine what the necessary repairs will be," Gilbert spokeswoman Jennifer Alvarez said.

An expert said this is technically not a sinkhole, in the geological sense. The Phoenix basin doesn’t have the kind of rock conducive for sinkholes.

“There’s just not a good reason to think there’s natural sinkholes there," said Joe Cook, a research geologist with the Arizona Geological Survey.

A farm worker died two weeks ago when a hole opened up beneath him near Queen Creek. Cook said this wasn’t technically a sinkhole either.

“Man-made causes. There you had the flood irrigation, you had the potential saturation of the soil," Cook said.

Neighbors said there has been construction on Greenfield Road several times recently. 

“So the concern is with the backfill, hopefully it’s back-filled properly. So hopefully that wasn’t the result of this one," neighbor Bill Goodyear said.

“It makes me scared to even drive on the road. The road can collapse any time," neighbor James Anderson said. 

Crews have a lot of work before they can determine the cause of the road collapse. Crews are working on rerouting pipelines before they can excavate the hole, Alvarez said.