The Maine Department of Transportation will undertake the repairs to a massive sinkhole that developed Feb. 15 and closed a large section of Old County Road.

Jason Andrews, the project manager for the repair project, said that if all goes well the road could be reopened in two weeks.

A team of environmental and geotechnical engineers, environmental staffers, and hydrologists will be at the scene again Monday, Feb. 22 with equipment that is expected to allow them to examine the sinkhole more closely, Andrews said. Then on Thursday, Feb. 25, the team will make its recommendations to DOT management.

Work could begin the following week and should take about a week, Andrews said. He stressed, however, that this is uncertain and more will be known after Monday, Feb. 22.

Mike Burns, acting bureau DOT director for maintenance and operations, said Feb. 17 that the state realizes this project is larger than a routine maintenance job. Under state law, maintenance of roads in a rural compact region such as this is the responsibility of municipalities.

Burns said state engineers are working on how to best fix the problem.

“We want to do it right and make sure we don’t create other problems,” Burns said.

Assessment records and a deed filed with the Knox County Registry of Deeds show that the state bought a 5.3 acre parcel from the Rockland Golf Club in 1966. The property is dominated by part of a quarry that stretches almost to Maverick Street.

When contacted Feb. 17 about the ownership of the property, the DOT said it was researching the matter to determine which agency owns the property and why it was purchased.

David Hoch, who worked for the Rockland-Rockport Lime Company for 30 years, said that in about the 1960s, the state proposed filling in the quarry and rebuilding Old County Road to remove the sharp S-shaped curve.

The city used the quarry until the early 1980s for disposal of demolition debris.

A story published in The Courier-Gazette in May 1982 said the property was owned by the DOT. The issue arose because in May 1982, the city wanted to enter into a lease with the transportation department so that the city could have more control of regulating disposal in the quarry.

Neighbors to the quarry complained of the traffic and noise from the disposal. The City Council voted to stop having an attendant at the site and to close the quarry to dumping because other towns were using the site without paying Rockland.

Dragon Products has offered to donate material to fill the hole that developed Feb. 15, said Rockland City Manager Rosemary Kulow.

One thing that is uncertain is whether there is a tunnel that runs from that quarry to another one located across the golf course.

Andrews said that from preliminary inspections there appears to be a tunnel about 30 to 40 feet underground that runs from the wall of the quarry to another quarry on the west side of the golf course. He said the best estimate is that the tunnel is 20 feet wide and 15 feet tall.

The project manager said the threat of a collapse of the tunnel similar to what happened on the road is unlikely because the road must bear much heavier loads. But, he said, this is also not a certainty.

“Lightning strikes every now and then,” Andrews said.

Rockland Golf Club Pro Keenan Flanagan said he does not believe there is a tunnel. He said scientists are examining the property and will use high-technology X-ray machines to determine if there is.

He said the best information he has heard is from old-timers who say that there was a cave dug into the side of the state-owned quarry where the sinkhole developed and the only question concerns how far in the cave goes. He said these longtime residents say there is no tunnel connecting the quarries.

The golf course has never had problems with sinkholes, he said.