Riverhead Police shut down Sound Shore Road in front of United Riverhead Terminal this afternoon due to a growing sink hole in the middle of the roadway.

There was some kind of steam coming out of the hole,  probably from a heat pipe buried in the roadway, Riverhead Police Sgt. Tom Lessard said at the scene this afternoon.

There was no fire, he said, but the size of the hole was growing, Lessard said. It was about eight inches in diameter when police were first called to the scene by a neighbor just before noon. It grew to more than 12 inches in diameter in half an hour.

Police had a difficult time contacting the terminal operator to respond to the incident. The dispatcher at police headquarters told the officer at scene that several numbers on file reached only voice mail. Police also contacted the Riverhead Fire Department to see if it had a different emergency number; it did not. Officers gained access to the terminal site and searched for URT personnel or another phone number to call.

After finally making contact with a United Riverhead Terminal representative, police said the terminal manager was on his way to the site at 12:40 p.m. There is a new terminal manager and police have obtained obtained his contact information and updated their records, according to police.

Helen Sims, who saw the hole and what appeared to be either steam or gas coming out of it, called police at about 11:45 a.m.

“I has just pulled out of my driveway and saw it,” Sims said. She lives next door to the terminal facility. “I became concerned and called police.”

Highway superintended George Woodson went to the scene to investigate the status of the roadway.

“The terminal operator is going to shut down the steam and  cover the hole with two large steel plates for now,” Woodson said.  “We’ll put some barrels around it until they can get somebody here to fix it,” he said.

Sound Shore Road was reopened by about 1:30 p.m. he said.



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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.