By Douglas W. Motley
As first reported by The Alpine Mountaineer’s predecessor (The Alpenhorn News) on April 15, 2010, a wedge-shaped, earthen cavern approximately eight feet long, two feet wide back under the wall face and one foot tall had been discovered beneath Highway 18 at the Red Rock Wall turnout, just east of Bayless Park, by Running Springs resident Barry Johnson. He brought it to the attention of this reporter. A Caltrans spokesperson at the time said, “The gap is some minor settlement and nothing to be alarmed about.”
Motorists traveling on Highway 18 last week couldn’t help but notice a drilling rig, which was taking core samples along the edge of the highway. Current Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga told The Alpine Mountaineer on April 17 that the crew was “drilling to verify a road slippage issue that has existed for several years.”
Kasinga added, “Geotech is done with core drilling and will further investigate why there is a dip in the roadway, then recommend what needs to be done next.”
During a visit to the site last Friday, two cemented-
over drill holes, as well as a nearby crack, were observed in the turnout’s pavement. Further investigation by The Alpine Mountaineer revealed what appeared to be further erosion near the mouth of the cavern, which has been covered with plywood sheeting.
The cracked pavement was noted by Johnson, who in 2010 described it as “a horizontal fissure” located midway between the top of a retaining wall at the road’s edge and the roof of the cavern he discovered underneath the busy roadway. He said he had suspected a dark area seen in previous photographs beneath the roadway was some sort of cavern but that he wasn’t totally convinced until he climbed down and came face-to-face with what he described as “a gaping void directly below the heavily-traveled state highway.”