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HOBART — City crews were alerted of a 2-inch depression in the pavement along Lincoln Street two weeks before a large sinkhole opened up Wednesday and a woman’s vehicle became stuck.

Police on Wednesday asked drivers to steer clear of the area near Ninth and Lincoln streets after a vehicle partially sunk several feet below ground level due to the formed sinkhole.

“There was no way to know there was a large void beneath the concrete pavement. No one believed we were in any imminent danger. We were moving as fast as we could,” Phillip Gralik, city engineer for the city of Hobart, said Wednesday.

After becoming aware of the issue, Gralik said his department investigated.

“We sent a robotic camera through the sewer pipe, which takes a closed circuit TV video feed. We were able to see that there were cracks in the pipe and other problems, so we decided we should replace the pipe,” Gralik said. “We talked about other drenchless ways to repair it, but based on what we saw, we felt we should replace (the pipe) and manhole on each side.”

Gralik said his department issued a request April 5 to companies for emergency sewer repair quotes, due back this past Monday.

The Griffith-based Gatlin Plumbing and Heating was awarded the $90,000 contract to repair the sanitary sewer. The company will have to replace the pavement they remove as part of their work, he said.

Work was set to begin April 16, but the sinkhole opening up prompted Gatlin Plumbing and Heating to begin work Wednesday instead, he said.

Repairs should wrap up, weather permitting, within the next five days. 

He said INDOT is working on a project to resurface Ind. 51 from U.S. 30 to U.S. 20 in Lake Station, and resurfacing of Lincoln Street is part of that project.

INDOT is set to pave that section in about three weeks, he said.

“We were trying to fix that pipe ahead of paving,” he said.

The intent is to reopen Lincoln Street to traffic until INDOT’s resurfacing project starts.

“These are very rare,” Gralik said, noting he previously worked for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The woman in the vehicle was taken to a hospital, but Gralik had no information about extent of injuries, if any. 

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