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Tiny hole hides big headache
DOT waiting for equipment to further investigate sinkhole
The Georgia Department of Transportation is waiting for equipment to examine this sinkhole at the Lakeshore Place shopping center. - photo by For The Times

A potentially cavernous sinkhole opened early Monday in a Gainesville shopping center parking lot, and fixing it is a bit complex.

After engineers conducted a preliminary inspection and fenced off the area, the Georgia Department of Transportation ordered specialized equipment.

The equipment will allow maintenance engineers "to safely inspect the eroded area and determine the root cause of the sinkhole," District Engineer Bayne Smith said.

"There is no timeline yet for repairs," states a DOT news release issued late Monday.

The sinkhole is in the parking lot of the Lakeshore Place shopping center in the northeast corner of Ga. 53 Connector/John Morrow Parkway and Pearl Nix Parkway. The busy intersection is surrounded by retail establishments, including Lakeshore Mall.

The sinkhole appears to be on both DOT rights of way and private property.

"Once we’ve determined the cause, we will develop a repair plan and projected timeline" with the property owner, Smith said.

The opening is about the size of a basketball, but the sinkhole widens to about 12 feet just below the asphalt and appears to be about 20 feet deep, DOT officials said.

Until repairs are made, shoppers can only reach stores in the center from John Morrow Parkway.

The DOT learned about the sinkhole after the shopping center owner called to report it, district spokeswoman Teri Pope said.