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Sinkhole threat keeps street closed

Mariner Boulevard will remain closed through Monday, when county officials expect to get word on radar tests meant to determine whether the road is home to more sinkholes-in-waiting.

Technicians continued analyzing radar data Friday, according to county spokeswoman Brenda Frazier. The test results are expected to show whether 10 "areas of concern" along Mariner are likely to collapse.

County Engineer and Public Works Director Charles Mixson said he anticipates having to fill some of the holes as a result of the report, and the road will likely be closed into the middle of next week.

"We're not going to just open it up," he said Friday. "Monday we'll have the full report. We'll go from there."

Meanwhile, the county continued to receive calls from residents worried about possible sinkholes.

Before noon Friday, an 8-foot-wide hole appeared on the east shoulder of Mariner near Elgin Boulevard in front of the Merita Bread store. County workers began fill work, believing the cavity to bea sinkhole, but it was later determined to be a "washout," according to Frazier.

"That's the way almost all of these have been," she said. "There is still quite a bit of anxiousness."

If rains continue this weekend, as predicted, more sinkholes could develop.

Today's forecast is cloudy with showers and thunderstorms. Chance of rain is 70 percent. Sunday is predicted to be mostly cloudy with showers and thunderstorms.

The county will have staff on call this weekend in shifts to investigate potential sinkholes. The phone number to call for help is 754-4083.

Residents who suspect they have property damage as a result of sinkhole activity and who have had trouble with their insurance companies should contact the state Department of Insurance toll-free at (800) 342-2762._ Staff writer Jennifer Farrell covers Spring Hill and can be reached at 848-1432. Discuss this and other issues in our Web-based discussion forum at http://www.sptimes.com/hernandoforum.

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