A widening sinkhole now has closed Front Street entirely, forcing a detour through a residential area for trucks hauling cargo in or out of the Port of Toledo.
City officials will send a diver in scuba gear to inspect a 72-inch sewer main beneath the street to determine if it is the reason for the hole 25 feet deep and eight feet across that has opened up during the last week.
If the sewer is the problem and it can be fixed from inside, then the street could reopen within a week and a half, Bob Stevenson, the city's director of public utilities, said yesterday. Any need to make repairs from outside or find a problem elsewhere if the sewer isn't to blame will be much more expensive and time-consuming, he said.
"We have a contractor on standby," said Hussein Abounaaj, the city's director of engineering services. "As soon as we know where the problem is, we'll get started."
The sinkhole developed in a stretch of Front occupying a high fill, just south of a four-lane bridge over Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, that was built between 1996 and 1998. As of Mon-
day, two-way traffic was maintained using what are normally the two northeast-bound lanes. But at 10 a.m. yesterday, officials decided to close it altogether.
"We just want to make sure nobody gets hurt. We're going to err on the side of caution," Mr. Stevenson said.
Traffic is detoured via Consaul Street, Corduroy and Otter Creek roads, and Millard Avenue. Consaul is lined with houses and goes by a parochial school.
City Councilman Bob McCloskey, whose district includes all of East Toledo, said he hesitated to recommend Consaul for the detour, but said an initial attempt to use York Street instead failed because trucks couldn't navigate the turn from Front onto York.
"There's just absolutely no choice - we'll have to deal with it," Mr. McCloskey said, adding that he hopes Front can reopen before the school year starts.
Less likely is that the detour will end before the Birmingham Festival, scheduled for Aug. 14 and 15. Consaul is usually closed during the festival, which will force any port traffic running during the weekend to use an undetermined alternate detour.
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