No specific cause of the Sawyer Street culvert collapse was identified and “old age” is the most likely suspect, according to the South Portland Water Resource Protection Department. Contributed / City of South Portland

A culvert collapse that spurred the closure of a portion of heavily-traveled Sawyer Street in South Portland has been remedied – at least for the winter.

The roughly quarter-mile stretch of Sawyer Street between Marsh and Arlington roads was open only to residents from Aug. 21 to Sept. 8 and caused South Portland Bus Service Route 21 to suspend two of its stops, but it has since reopened to all traffic. Sawyer Street connects Cottage Road and Ocean Street and also intersects with Spurwink Avenue.

The city initially estimated an October reopening but received the necessary materials sooner than expected and reopened it last Friday. The temporary fix included putting steel plates across the damaged section of the road, said Brad Weeks, director of the South Portland Water Resource Protection Department.

“The steel plates will bear the weight of traffic, but we need to get an anti-slip surface,” Weeks told The Forecaster last week. “We need to coat the steel with that because this is going to have to last through the winter.”

The process also involved grinding the road to recess the steel plates so they don’t create a bump in the road. That bump isn’t just an annoyance for drivers but can be a safety hazard in the snow and ice and an issue for snowplows.

“Obviously, this is temporary, what we’re doing,” Weeks said. “The next step will be to start looking into what we need to do to make a permanent installation, but that’s going to take some time.”

It likely won’t be until next summer that a permanent road repair can be implemented, he said.

“There’s a lot involved with that,” he said. “That has to be vetted out and inclusive of the permits that are needed.”

Weeks said no specific cause of the culvert collapse was identified and “old age” is the most likely suspect.

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