Providing the weather cooperates, Portsmouth city workers may have Coles Boulevard reopened to traffic by sometime Thursday.
On Tuesday, the street remained closed at Scioto Trail and completely blocked between Kenroe Street and Buena Vista Lane. The intersection of Coles and Buena Vista is the location of what City Manager Sam Sutherland previously described as an eight by eight foot void beneath Coles.
Sutherland expressed fears the void could create a sinkhole in the street and therefore ordered the road’s closure late last week until workers could fill in the empty space beneath the street.
Sutherland initially expressed hope Coles would reopen Monday, but that did not happen. Columbia Gas of Ohio discovered the void while replacing a main gas line along the street. On Tuesday, Sutherland stated the gas company intends to run a nine hour test of the new mainline and told Portsmouth officials city crews needed to vacate the area while that test was in process.
As soon as Columbia Gas gives the all clear so to speak, Sutherland said Portsmouth crews will be back at work – again, weather permitting – pouring concrete into the void beneath Coles. Sutherland added officials must give the concrete time to cure before reopening the street.
Even when city crews finish fixing the large void, thus preventing formation of a full-fledged sinkhole, that doesn’t mean the end of traffic interruptions along Coles.
Columbia Gas Communications Manager Dave Rau said Friday his company began working a while back – he wasn’t sure 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. As work moved forward, workers completely or partly blocked Coles at various times over at least the last few months.
Although Rau added about two-thirds of the new mainline is installed, he expects the project will continue until sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, meaning partial and complete closures of Coles will continue until then as well.
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.