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U.S. 40 ramp to downtown closed as engineers evaluate sinkhole damage

As engineers continued to assess a 50-foot-wide sinkhole on Mulberry Street on Wednesday, transportation officials closed a ramp from U.S. Route 40 into downtown, a path used by 32,000 motorists daily.

City public works crews were still assessing damage to an 80-inch-sewer main that was revealed when a crater opened up on the eastbound thoroughfare across downtown Monday. They plan to erect an above-ground sewage bypass so repairs can be made, said Jeff Raymond, a spokesman for the public works department.

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The city transportation department issued a traffic advisory Wednesday closing the ramp from what is known as the "highway to nowhere" and encouraging drivers to take Saratoga, Lexington or Baltimore streets cross the city eastbound.

Mulberry Street is expected to remain closed between Greene and Paca streets for weeks while repairs are made. The sinkhole stretches from one sidewalk to the other.

Engineers believe a leak in a small water pipe eroded the soil underneath the concrete roadway. They don't know how long the leak occurred. It went undetected even as work was conducted last month to replace a water main along the same stretch of Mulberry Street.

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