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Sinkhole near Livingston closes northbound lane of Highway 99

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
Traffic was traveling at a snails pace and backed up to the Sultana/Liberty Road exit, as Cal Trans made repairs on a sink hole that was found Friday, February 25, 2011 morning on North bound Highway 99, just three fourths miles north of the Winton Parkway exit.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG Traffic was traveling at a snails pace and backed up to the Sultana/Liberty Road exit, as Cal Trans made repairs on a sink hole that was found Friday, February 25, 2011 morning on North bound Highway 99, just three fourths miles north of the Winton Parkway exit. Merced Sun-Star

LIVINGSTON -- A sinkhole near Highway 99 just north of the Merced River prompted the California Highway Patrol to close the northbound lane Friday morning.

Emergency repairs were being made, but a Caltrans spokeswoman said it could be several days before work is complete.

Caltrans crews on storm patrol noticed cracks in the highway's right shoulder at 9:45 a.m. A closer look revealed that a sinkhole had formed beneath the right lane of the highway, said Caltrans spokeswoman Michelle Demetras.

Traffic slowed and backed up for miles after the lane was closed.

The hole measured about 10 feet deep, 5 feet wide and 15 feet long and likely formed as a result of an underground drainage system failure, Demetras said.

Caltrans issued an emergency repair order, but the work could take several days. Engineers are trying to determine if they will be able to reopen the right lane as the repairs are made.

A contractor will repair the drain and fill the sinkhole with a slurry solution, Demetras said.

Online editor Brandon Bowers can be reached at (209) 385-2464 or bbowers@mercedsun-star.com.

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