MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
A large sinkhole opened early Monday morning on Carnes Road, near Santa Margarita Elementary School and on-base housing prompting decision makers to close traffic in both directions and work around the clock to employ tactical bridging equipment to best minimize the impact to residents.
“We first heard about the collapsed road at about 9 a.m. By noon we assessed the area affected and reached out to the Marines of 7th Engineer Support Battalion (ESB) because they have bridge building capabilities,” said Navy Lt. j.g. Scott Michael Cherry, civil engineer corps officer with public works division, Marine Corps Installations West (MCI-WEST). “By 1 p.m., ESB leadership came out to assess the situation, and [together] we came up with a solution to begin execution,” added Cherry.
With the initial impact of the closure, residents parked along available roadsides and walked along paths around the hole. To alleviate this, MCI- WEST staff scheduled shuttle bus services between the road closure site and the Pacific Views Marine Corps Exchange shopping center allowing residents to park their cars away from the impacted area and have mobility for additional travels lessening the impact of the road closure. The tactical bridging effort is a temporary fix until a long term solution can be completed.
“The road is a major network connecting two housing areas to the rest of the base,” U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Luke Bain, combat engineer, 1st Platoon Bridge Company 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistic Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF).
As a I MEF war fighting capability best known for being the first ones in and last ones out, the Marines of 7th ESB lived up to their motto by quickly responding to the situation. Construction of a lightweight, hand-constructed medium girder bridge required five hours to complete, and Marines continued to work through the weather and darkness of night to complete the mission.
“This is a unique way [7th ESB] is helping us complete our garrison mission by using their expeditionary skill sets. Usually we serve them, now they are really serving us and the residents get to see and really feel it,” said Cherry.