Orinda declares emergency over sinkhole on Miner Road

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ORINDA (KTVU) -- City officials on Tuesday issued a state of emergency in connection with the formation of a large sinkhole that formed during last week's soaking rains that drenched the Bay Area.

The declaration by the Orinda City Council, which was made during a special council meeting, allows public works officials to act quickly with a private vendor to repair the hole.

Larry Theis, the public works director, calls this the "triage phase". 

He says the earliest repairs can start is the middle of next week. 

People who live in the area say the sinkhole is an inconvenience, but more importantly it raises serious safety questions. 

"We just hope it gets fixed really quickly because it impacts the area, people driving, not to mention the safety concern. There's a big hold in the ground," said Anne Rohr, who lives just steps from the sinkhole. 

As of Tuesday evening, the hole measured 25-feet wide and 10 to 12 feet deep, according to Theis. He said they'll continue to monitor the weather and sinkhole until repair work can begin. 

"We have folks on our city staff and contractors on standby when it is raining to watch the water flow. And if we have to, to take more action to arrest the erosion. We have the equipment on site to address that," says Theis. 

City council hopes to vote on the repair plan next Tuesday night January 24. Officials estimate the repairs will cost $1 million to $1.25 million. 

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

Two sewer lines under the road ruptured, which sent sewage into the San Pablo Creek. The ground beneath the sinkhole washed away during last week's heavy rainfall.

City officials have not publicly said if the sewer lines broke before or as a result of the sinkhole, but crews were said to have installed a bypass sewer line.

Miner Road is one of five primary streets in the city and the sinkhole, said to be 15-feet deep, has impacted traffic in the area.

Under the emergency declaration, the city will move quickly to pursue quotes from contractors to repair the street.

"If there is a window of good weather, we hope to complete the sinkhole repair in approximately 4 weeks," the city statement said.