A sinkhole expanding underneath Wildwood Circle in the Town of Mamakating has forced the closure of part of a residential road while workers take on an extensive repair that the highways superintendent expects to last "the rest of our lifetimes."

Workers on scene said the Mamakating Highway Department had been monitoring a void beneath the ground just next to the road for the past eight months, but that two weeks ago, the ground caved in, showing a large hole that is beginning to expand into the road.

The hole just recently began to attract the attention of neighbors, many of whom walk their dogs here or have children who ride bikes in the neighborhood. 

"I saw that it was there," neighbor Brittany Bartels said. "I assumed that someone was going to take care of it."

Mamakating Highways Superintendent Buddy Platt said the sinkhole was caused by a broken steel culvert beneath the road, and grew to be about eight feet deep and four feet wide. A stream cuts down the middle of the circle formed by the road, running through the steel culvert under the sinkhole, taking pieces of earth with it down the hill.

Since the sinkhole was first reported, the hole was filled with rocks and dirt on two occasions, only for the fill to fall through the hole and into the stream below, according to Platt.

Platt said the department's third attempt to fix the sinkhole entails removing the broken culvert entirely and rebuilding the ground beneath the road.

"I didn't know what kind of action they were [taking] with it," Bartels said while trying to tame her new puppy. "Knowing that they're taking care of it instead of doing something temporary is good."

Platt said that when he first saw the sinkhole beginning to creep under the road, he decided to go forward with the full-on repair -- not to fill, but essentially to remove the sinkhole. Platt said that in the last week, the sinkhole quadrupled in size. 

"We have been keeping an eye on this. It did get bigger. We turned [the work order] in last week, saying we were ready to replace the culvert pipe," Platt said. "With the heavy rains, it opened up a little bit bigger over the weekend."

In addition to replacing the steel culvert with a longer-lasting plastic culvert, Platt said the department is planning to replace a section of the road and build a retaining wall. He estimates the project will cost the town about $10,000, and should be complete in two or three days. 

"It'll be like new," Platt said.