City closes Coles at SR23 at least through Monday

By Tom Corrigan -

On Friday, after the beginning of a large sinkhole was discovered on Coles Boulevard, Portsmouth City Manager Sam Sutherland said the decision was made to close the street between Scioto Trail and Brant Avenue at least through Monday.

“It’s not as bad as it could have been,” Sutherland said after personally viewing the situation on Coles. “But it’s not good.”

Sutherland said Columbia Gas of Ohio is in the midst of an extended repair and replacement project on Coles. On Friday afternoon, company contractors apparently discovered a void about 8 feet by 8 feet beneath Coles. Sutherland said the street had not actually caved in, but very easily could have and he made the decision to close the roadway in the interest of safety.

“We’re going to try to fix this in-house,” Sutherland added.

But he also said the city must learn the location of various underground utility lines before beginning repairs, adding work will start as soon as the city has that data in hand.

Columbia Gas Communications Manager Dave Rau said his company began working a while back – he wasn’t sure precisely when the project started – on replacing gas lines along Coles. Rau said the ongoing work includes putting in new mainlines as well as smaller lines connecting to customers along the street.

“It’s a pretty typical project for us,” Rau said, adding Columbia has completed such work in Portsmouth previously. Again, persons in the immediate area probably are well aware of the situation, as Coles has been completely or partly blocked at various times over at least the last few months.

“It’s a time-consuming project,” Rau said, although he added about two-thirds of the new mainline is installed.

Just how time-consuming is the work? Rau added he expects it to continue until sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, meaning partial and complete closures of Coles will continue until then as well. He added the arrival of cold or wintry weather should have little or no effect on the progress of the work.

Rau stated when the project is complete, the neighborhood around Coles will have essentially a brand-new natural gas system, including 133 individual customer hookups. Customers in the area have or will receive what Rau described as new and more efficient gas meters. For safety reasons, Rau said his company is relocating new meters outside of residences.

By Tom Corrigan

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.