After seven months of closure, El Portal Drive officially re-opened Friday afternoon.
The opening of the road marks the completion of one of the last phases of the construction brought on by a massive sinkhole created in April 2010.
Officials believe strong rains had weakened the soil, which collapsed and left a 120-foot long by 40-foot wide sinkhole on Via Verdi roadway. No injuries were reported, but several cars were parked on the street at the time and had fallen into the hole.
Although El Portal Drive was not damaged from the sinkhole, officials advised City Council in the winter of 2011 to replace the pipe that ran under the road, as it was made of the same material and surrounded by the same soil that gave way on Via Verdi roadway.
Ken Brown helps run the bicycle shop El Sobrante Cyclery off El Portal Drive. He said the road closure made getting to his store nearly impossible for customers who live just a few feet away.
“I’m sure it affected everyone in the area,” Brown said.
Brown said it seemed government officials could have given storeowners a better warning that they would be closing the road.
“It just seems like they didn’t really think their plan through,” said Brown. He said he received a letter announcing the road was opening that day.
Brown estimated that he lost between 25-30 percent of business during the road closure, but he said he hopes that sales will pick up before Christmas.
As crews removed the cones and signs from El Portal, a rainbow appeared, which was fitting, said one bystander, because the construction “cost a pot of gold.”
The total cost of the Via Verdi repair is $12 million, which includes the repairs to El Portal Drive, reconstruction of Via Verdi roadway, and removal of the temporary road created as an alternate route.
Associate Civil Engineer Tawfic Halaby said Via Verdi roadway should be finished in March or April, but he’s hoping it will be done sooner.