Portsmouth city workers were, over the weekend, unable to complete as planned repairs intended to prevent a sinkhole from forming on Coles Boulevard at the intersection of Buena Vista Lane.
As of late Monday afternoon, Coles remained closed at Scioto Trail, blocked off completely between Kenroe Street and Buena Vista.
Portsmouth City Manager Sam Sutherland said municipal crews had repaired an apparently leaking sewer line, possibly the cause of the void beneath the street discovered last week by crews from Columbia Gas of Ohio.
However, Sutherland, who actually had the day off Monday, stated crews could not complete repairs beneath the roadway in time to reopen Coles by Monday as Sutherland had hoped.
Because the extent of the damage beneath the street remained unclear, Sutherland added he did not want to give an estimate as to when repairs would be complete and the street reopened.
As previously reported, Sutherland said Friday Columbia Gas 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.
While he expressed hope crews could complete the work over the weekend, Sutherland also said workers first needed to determine the location of underground utility lines before beginning any repairs.
Columbia Gas Communications Manager Dave Rau said Friday 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 along with 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. As work has continued, 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. Still, Rau expects the project will continue until sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, meaning partial and complete closures of Coles will continue until then as well. He stated the arrival of cold or wintry weather should have little or no effect on the progress of the work. Sutherland noted gas crews were at work in the area even as the city sought to remove the danger of any potential sinkhole.
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.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.