Sinkhole stops traffic on major Orinda street

ORINDA (KTVU) -- Utility crews say it will take as many as three weeks to repair a sinkhole that opened after the recent heavy rains washed away part of a culvert near Miner and Camino Pablo roads, heavily traveled roadways that lead to homes and a nearby elementary school.

Workers spent several hours Wednesday assessing the damage caused by the sinkhole, which spans the entire width of Miner Road.

Two sewer lines under the road also broke, which sent sewage into the San Pablo Creek. Apparently, the ground beneath the sinkhole has washed away because of the heavy rainfall that has soaked the Bay Area in recent days.

Chris Carpenter with Central Contra Costa Sanitary District said it is not determined if the sewer lines broke before or as a result of the sinkhole, but said crews quickly installed a bypass sewer line.

Todd Fierner, an inspector for the city's Public Works Department, said the road is one of five primary streets in the city and the sinkhole, said to be 15-feet deep, would slow traffic.

It could have been devastating. It's big enough to swallow a whole car. It impacts a lot of residents," he said.

The Briones Reservoir facility serves as a source for East Bay MUD drinking water. MUD officials said there is no concern of any contamination to drinking water because of the amount of rain we've received and the amount of water in the reservoir. In addition, all water is treated in a 7-step process. 

Orinda City Manager Janet Keeter said utilities would not be affected by the road closure and repairs, only the day to day traffic near Miner Road.

“We would appreciate the public’s patience as we work through this project,” Keeter said. “This is an unusual event. We are putting together what we consider a long term plan for the fix.”

Residents say soaking rains flooded the intersection of Miner and Camino Lenada roads.

Said Jana Raines, who lives in the area: "The water was maybe 75 feet wide. It was just a lake."

She said the sinkhole wasn't noticeable until the water receded Wednesday morning. Firefighters responding to a call also noticed the sinkhole and stopped to assess the situation.

"There were  coming to check on the neighbors," Raines said. "It could have been a lot worse."

By KTVU reporter Allie Rasmus.

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