Giant washout blocks highway at Nuevo Arenal

Heavy rains are being blamed for a gigantic washout of the highway in Nuevo Arenal. The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said that the highway, Ruta 142 that goes along the east side of Lake Arenal, has been closed.

Residents attributed the washout to work being done alongside the highway. Photographs taken Wednesday show a deep pit big enough to hold heavy equipment alongside the still-intact road.

Victoria Torley of nearby Aguacate said that the work was on Ruta 127, the  Fortuno Road, that intersects there. She said the problem became known about 4 a.m. Thursday when visitors staying at the adjacent hotel were awakened by the sound of the road collapsing in front of the facility.  The business is the Gingerbread Fine Restaurant & Boutique Hotel.

Visitors and residents went out to redirect traffic away from the hole, and a backhoe was  swallowed by the collapse, and a second piece of road equipment was stranded, she said.

By 9 a.m. the road was completely eroded, she said, estimating the canyon to be  about 35 meters (115 feet) wide, 20 meters (66 feet) deep and extending about 100 meters (328 feet) downhill from the restaurant.

A real estate firm was evacuated, and another resident predicted that the expanding hole would damage some buildings even though road workers were digging a ditch to divert water.

The Consejo de Vialidad said that motorists could use a gravel road, Ruta 734, instead of the closed highway, but the agency added that only four wheel-drive vehicles could make that trip.

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