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Published: Tuesday, 8/3/2004

Sinkhole closes lanes on Front St.

A sinkhole that appears to be 20 feet deep and about three feet across has closed the southwest lanes of Front Street near its six-year-old bridge over the Norfolk Southern railroad.

Two-way traffic is being maintained using the northeast lanes until repairs are made. A city official in charge of street maintenance could not be reached for comment yesterday, but the damage appears to be from a drainage failure that caused fill beneath the street to wash out.

The problem first appeared as a depression in the shoulder and right lane that city workers marked last month with an orange barrel to keep motorists from driving over. It later opened up the hole in the pavement, which stretches from the shoulder to the middle of the right lane, about seven feet across and three feet wide.

Front Street is a primary truck route to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's general cargo docks on the Maumee River. Its four-lane bridge over the railroad was built between 1996 and 1998 to alleviate train delays, and its construction required ramps on fills to gain the necessary clearance over the tracks.

Brian Schwartz, a port authority spokesman, said officials are aware of the problem and are ready to detour trucks via Consaul Street, Corduroy and Otter Creek roads, and Millard Avenue if the sinkhole worsens.

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