A Sinkhole In Smith County Continues To Grow, Officials Try To Pinpoint Its Cause - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/30/05-Smith County

A Sinkhole In Smith County Continues To Grow, Officials Try To Pinpoint Its Cause

A sinkhole in Smith County, which was first discovered on Sunday, has now developed into a tourist attraction as well as an inconvenience for those living near it. The growing sinkhole is on
FM 724, about two miles north of Tyler Pounds Regional Airport outside New Harmony. A stretch of road near the site has been closed now for four days.

TX DOT says the sinkhole measures at least 90 feet wide and 60 to 80 feet deep. "Right now we're not sure how much more this hole is going to sink into itself," say Larry Kranz, the Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation.

TXDOT has not confirmed the cause, but there is speculation that a rig 50 feet away, may have played a part. That rig is leaning and crews from J-W Operating Company are on the scene. The company leases the rig from Patterson Drilling Company. A company spokesman tells us, a plan is in place to level the rig, then bring it down. That official also says it could take years before the cause of the sinkhole is determined.

For those that live near the site, the gaping hole has altered their lifestyle. "I've been traveling this road for 11 years. It just blew me away to know that I cannot go that way anymore," says Michelle Cagle. Laterra Bowie, who lives down the street from Cagle, says "It's more of an inconvenience for our church, like if we have something and nobody knows the way out to 64, it's an inconvenience for the people that don't know that way."

TX DOT crews are taking sonar pictures of the sinkhole to determine the extent of the damage. Once that information is available, officials say the planning process to fix the road can begin.

For now, officials are asking the curious not to come down to the site. Kranz says, "the best thing we can say is, stay away. It's a dangerous area. We'll have it under control as soon as we can."

Oralia Ortega, reporting ortega@kltv.com

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