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I-4 off-ramp reopens after sinkhole traps car in Maitland

20-foot wide hole opens during I-4 Ultimate project


MAITLAND, Fla. – An Interstate 4 off-ramp reopened Tuesday morning in Maitland after a 20-foot sinkhole opened a day earlier, officials said.

[PICS: Sinkhole shuts down I-4 ramp | TRAFFIC: See live conditions]

A car became stuck in the sinkhole, which was 4 feet deep by 20 feet wide.  The hole shut down the off-ramp and the eastbound lane of Maitland Boulevard just east of I-4.

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Crews rebuilt the roadway overnight.  Maitland police, along with the Florida Department of Transportation, are investigating.

No injuries were reported in the crash. Fire officials said the driver tried to avoid the hole but ended up partially stuck.

"According to what the construction crews have told me, once they get the vehicle out, they're going to continue to drill to see what the source of what caused the sinkhole and then they're going to address how to stabilize it then," said Maitland Fire Department Associate Chief Charles Van Camp.

"That would have been a heck of a hole to miss," said Ed Isola, who has a bird's-eye view of the hole from his office. "I definitely feel as if it's related to the construction, because there's been a lot of pounding as they're setting the roadway up and it's just constant pounding."

For hours, crews dug deeper into the sinkhole to find its source.

Construction crews working on the I-4 Ultimate project were drilling horizontally into the side of the ramp to install a drainage pipe. They hit a pocket of water and when the water drained, the road above caved.

News 6 asked how the crew plans to prevent it from happening again.

"A lot of it goes into the pre-explorations you do beforehand," said I-4 Ultimate spokesperson David Parks. "We think that we may have hit an existing clay lie that had some water in it. That did not appear on any of the existing plans. That did not appear on any of the exploration work that had been done up until this point."

"It definitely makes you wake up and realize you better pay attention," Isola said. "Hopefully the DOT is paying attention to this and keeping tabs on it because it really looks like it's going to be a risk over the next couple of years."

FDOT said it plans to use this is an example of what to watch out for to prevent another sinkhole from opening on a busy road as the I-4 Ultimate project continues for the next several years.

Video from News 6 helicopter Sky 6 showed the passenger's side of the car appearing to be stuck in the hole in the middle of the road. Drivers were urged to avoid the area.

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