Ellsworth sinkhole still causing traffic woes, with more to come

Posted Aug. 22, 2011, at 6:19 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Road crews were once again tearing up the pavement on Main Street in Ellsworth on Monday morning after heavy rains caused a sinkhole to begin to reopen.

But the bigger headache for drivers as well as some downtown businesses and residents may come after Labor Day when the Maine Department of Transportation and the city undertake a larger, permanent repair likely to affect one of the city’s busiest intersections for several days.

Monday morning’s torrential rains undermined the temporary patch on the sinkhole that first opened earlier this month near the intersection of Routes 1 and 3, Water Street and State Street. As a result, a sinkhole measuring 3 feet deep developed in the road during the early-morning hours on Monday.

Road crews re-excavated and then refilled the hole, but the work caused both morning and noontime traffic to back up.

The original sinkhole developed after both a metal culvert and a clay pipe in an underground drainage system failed after a storm on Aug. 2. DOT officials acknowledge that the current patch is only a temporary fix because repairing the drainage system will take considerably more digging and, therefore, cause more disruption on one of the busiest routes used by local drivers and summertime tourists exploring the coast.

“We are looking at doing a more permanent repair and we are looking to do that after Labor Day,” DOT spokesman Mark Latti said Monday.

Latti said engineers are still discussing how to proceed with the permanent repairs, so it is too early to say how long the road work will last and whether they will be able to keep some lanes of traffic open. But Latti said the work is expected to take “at least a couple of days.”

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