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Huge sinkhole opens behind Liberty Motors in Grass Valley

Recent storms have challenged Northern California’s five-year drought, but Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on roads and property.

The doors were shuttered on Wednesday and Thursday at Liberty Motors, where a huge sinkhole opened near the parking lot behind the dealership and its former building next door, which was recently sold to Tripp’s Auto Body.

Liberty Motors and Tripp’s resides on top of a culvert that failed. The culvert is a tributary to Little Wolf Creek.



While it hasn’t been established for certain that weather is to blame, it also isn’t the first to open this week.

A sinkhole about 15 feet in diameter opened underneath The Stonehouse in Nevada City on Tuesday.



“The exact cause is something we’re still trying to determine, but due to it failing, it’s created a sinkhole about 80 to 100 feet deep, probably 60-by-50 at the top, so it’s a fairly big hole at this point in time,” said Tim Kiser, the public works director for the City of Grass Valley.

“At this time, we’re trying to secure the site and remove a couple of trees that are in the hole, and then formulate a plan on what we’ll do from there. Right now safety is No. 1; keeping this area safe and preventing any further damage.”

Construction workers were busy inside Tripp’s working on a remodel co-owner Todd Tripp hopes to have completed in the next month, but the sinkhole has caused minor delays.

Lou Freschi Construction, which is handling the remodel, stopped its work on Wednesday to move the Liberty trailer, which sat precariously close to the sinkhole. The trailer houses Liberty’s offices.

“Lou Freschi was amazing,” Tripp said. ”He called in all his guys immediately to get that trailer moved as soon as possible. It was pretty impressive.”

Tripp’s also been impressed with the city’s response.

“The city’s been remarkable in how quickly they stepped up and had people out there taking care of it,” he said. “I was pretty amazed.”

Tripp said the sinkhole is affecting the parking lot, which has cracks that are moving. “Just today, one of the city engineers told me (a crack) has moved about a half inch,” he said.

Liberty Motors owner Gary Alcombrack, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, received a phone call early Wednesday morning once the sinkhole opened.

“I don’t really know what’s going on right now,” Alcombrack said. “I’m down in Scottsdale. The only thing I’ve seen are some pictures so far. I’m just waiting to hear myself. I know they’re measuring and trying to determine if it’s still sinking. They have a hell of a problem there, I know that.”

To contact reporter Stephen Roberson, email sroberson@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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