Sinkhole closes Route 170 in Petersburg

PETERSBURG, Ohio (WKBN) – A portion of well-traveled state Route 170 in the Petersburg area is likely to remain closed for another couple days thanks to a growing sinkhole.

The hole, thought to be from an old coal mine shaft, was first spotted Sunday afternoon. It originally was the size of a doormat, approximately 3-feet by 2-feet,.

Now it reaches about 10 feet below ground and continues under a portion of the roadway, which forced Ohio Department of Transportation workers to install barricades.

“It’s amazing when you walk up, it is just a little hole. And then you look down in and there’s this cave. And that’s just the top of the hole,” resident Mark Thompson said.

The hole is right in front of his mother’s house.

About a mile down the road, the closure is affecting several businesses that must now take long detours to get around.

“It is a huge inconvenience, with no posted detour signs whatsoever. Tractor trailers are coming down, now knowing where they are or where to go, asking for directions and having to back up,” Charlie Preisel of Bessemer Concrete said. “The route to go around, we are kind of bottle-necked here, is astronomical and we got  a product that is time-delivered, so it is hurting us a lot.”

The lack of detour signs left a number of drivers having to turn around wherever they could, including the operator of a big semi. It took several several tries before he could finally back into a driveway and get on his way.

ODOT crews will be back at the scene early Tuesday with ground-penetrating radar to take a look at the area to see just how much of the roadway itself has been compromised. They hope to have the road re-opened by Wednesday.

That means motorists will face a lengthy detour that includes U.S. Route 224, Interstate 680, Western Reserve Road, South Avenue Extension, and Routes 165 and 617.

And as if the mess on Route 170 is not bad enough, a section of Route 164, one of the detours being used this week, will actually close starting this Friday.

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