UPDATED: The minivan that was swallowed up by the massive sinkhole that collapsed part of Princedale Drive in Dale City was freed from its muddy trap Friday afternoon.
But officials are warning it will take a lot longer to fix the sinkhole and patch the roadway.
Crews from Waggy’s Towing Service pulled the red Dodge Caravan out of the sinkhole late Friday afternoon, according to Prince William County police. (The vehicle’s owner is not being disclosed, said Sgt. Jonathan Perok, spokesman for the Prince William County Police Department.)
Officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation were on the scene of the sinkhole shortly after the road caved in Thursday evening.
An agency employee lives near the site and reported it to the state agency almost immediately, Ellen Kamilakis, a VDOT spokeswoman, said Friday.
But a construction team called to the site quickly realized the job will require a full structural assessment of the roadway. Fixing the road might require a concrete culvert to be installed to deal with the pressure of the nearby creek, Kamilakis said.
“This is going to be a pretty large-scale project. We don’t want people to think this is going to be done in a week,” Kamilakis said. “It’s probably not.”
VDOT believes Thursday’s storm, which dumped about 1 inch or more of rain in Dale City over the last 24 hours, caused water to rush under the road from a nearby creek, overwhelming the existing storm drain. Water likely pushed under and around the pipe, washing away soil underneath the road and destabilizing the asphalt, Kamilakis said.
The additional utility lines under the road – including pipes for gas, drinking water and fiber-optic cable – will further complicate the work and could lengthen the timeline for repairs.
But the good news is that the sinkhole did not impact any nearby homes because all structures are located far enough away from the hole and the creek that caused it, Kamilakis said.
VDOT will have more crews onsite on Monday to further assess the damage. In the meantime, officials continue to urge residents not to go near the site, as the ground remains unstable and could continue to shear off from the sides of the hole, Kamilakis said.
“Don’t assume the concrete or the asphalt is going to hold you, especially if it rains again,” she added.
Area motorists are urged to avoid Princedale Drive between Roundtree Drive and Saddler Lane and use alternate roads to access the area.
Reach Jill Palermo at firstname.lastname@example.org