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COOS BAY — Beneath the surface of Coos Bay is an aging storm drain system.

A sinkhole was spotted near the Devereux Center on Newmark Avenue and Ocean Boulevard earlier this month after a 30-inch metal culvert failed. According to City Manager Rodger Craddock, that pipe was more than 40 years old.

“It was originally put in by the Oregon Department of Transportation when Ocean Boulevard was still part of the state highway system,” Craddock told The World. “It began to fail as corrugated metal pipe will do after time.”

The city secured the services of Benny Hempstead Excavating Inc. to perform an emergency storm sewer line replacement.

“We don’t know how much this is costing,” Craddock said. “It’s a time and materials deal because it is an emergency.”

According to a press release, construction began last week. The work is estimated to continue for another two weeks with construction hours running from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Because of the project, the east entrance to the Devereux Center has been closed.

“The pipe is fairly close to a building near the Devereux, so we are moving it over,” Craddock said. “We found the problem because of the appearance of a sinkhole and, based on what staff told me, they filled in the void but the void continued to sink. That is how we learned that the sinkhole was caused by the pipe and it needed to be replaced.”

It is up to the city to take care of the problem since it took ownership of Ocean Boulevard from ODOT back in 2003.

“The city made a deal with ODOT for acceptance for $4.8 million to take over 16 lane miles of formally owned state highway, so it is our responsibility to maintain it,” Craddock said. “It should be resolved fairly soon.”

The release stated that there should be minimal traffic impacts since the work is being done on private property and not in the street.

“When you’re dealing with a system where some parts of it are over 100 years old, parts wear out and you start to see sink holes,” Craddock said. “If you see a sinkhole, give us a call and we will check on it. If it needs to be addressed, we will address it.”

To report possible sinkholes, call Coos Bay Public Works at 541-269-8918.

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Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.