Just ahead of another strong winter storm, sinkholes and potholes are popping up around Modesto.
Potholes across all three lanes on northbound Highway 99 near Tuolumne Boulevard slowed traffic as Caltrans crews filled them during period traffic breaks Tuesday morning.
Around 8:30 a.m. a Modesto City worker discovered a large sinkhole in the westbound lane of Bangs Avenue east of Dale Road.
California Highway Patrol Officer Thomas Olsen said the hole is at least three-feet deep and four- to five-feet wide or large enough to fit “three human beings.”
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He said it gets even wider as it runs north under the road about 12 feet to the dirt shoulder.
Olsen posted a photo of the sinkhole on the CHP Modesto’s Facebook page with a caption reading, “The hole was so deep you could literally see CHINA.”
He’d placed a letter size piece of paper in the hole with the word “CHINA” on it.
As of Tuesday morning, the road was open to one-way controlled traffic and city crews were on scene.
Repairs were expected to be completed by Tuesday afternoon, according to city spokesman Thomas Reeves.
He said the sinkhole is believed to have been caused by a ground squirrel burrow combined with the recent rains.
More rain is expected to hit the Valley on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning and snow levels could drop as low as 2,000 feet, according to the National Weather Service.
The rain should be heavier on Wednesday into Thursday and include wind gusts up to 40 to 50 miles per hour.
Modesto is expected to get one to two inches of rain by the end of Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service also warns of moderate rises on local rivers and streams.