A northbound TriMet bus narrowly escaped a sinkhole, when the asphalt pavement at the corner of S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Reedway Street gave way in the hot late-afternoon hours of Wednesday, June 12.
"There was a break in the sewer main, which is about 18 feet deep; no sewage was released to public spaces, or to nearby homes," City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Public Information Officer Diane Dulken told THE BEE.
Recalling a sinkhole and sewer repairs in the same intersection about three years ago, we contacted Portland Bureau of Transportation Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera.
The last incident was in April of 2016, but it was on the south side of the intersection. "This is on the north side of the intersection," Rivera confirmed. "Workers have seen pieces of clay pipe and concrete that seem to indicate a sewer line break."
Once again, crews dug deep into the street – through layers of pavement, cobblestones, and old trolley tracks; being careful to leave a NW Natural Gas pipe intact – to repair the aging, broken section of sewer pipe.
"The sewer main is believed to be at least 80 years old," Rivera said. "We have no information that suggests any link between the new break and the 2016 incident, and we don't have information on what might have caused the sewer main to break."The sewer repair evidently was not easy to complete, since despite PBOT having paved the street by the following weekend, most of the following week the intersection was again closed and dug up for more work.
For the whole week and a half, Milwaukie Avenue was closed to northbound traffic at Bybee Boulevard, and drivers in north Westmoreland – particularly northbound traffic detoured east to S.E. 17th – backed up for blocks at the McLoughlin Boulevard traffic light.
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