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CINCINNATI, Ohio - A massive sinkhole near the Cincinnati Zoo that trapped a Metro bus Thursday night will likely take a month to fix, according to a Metropolitan Sewer District official.

The bus was partially stuck in the a 15-deep hole that spans about 15 feet wide near the intersection of Vine and Shields streets around 9 p.m., said Cincinnati police Lt. Tim Brown, the night chief.

"It's crazy," he said.

"It looks like the road just fell out under the bus while it was sitting at the light," described one witness, a resident.

The bus was towed overnight. An MSD crew was investigating a reported buckle in the pavement atop old sewer pipes on Shield Street at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. While investigating, crews discovered a backup of sewage upstream of the buckled pavement in the sewer manhole, according to a release.

The bus drove over the buckled area around 9 p.m., at which point the sinkhole opened up.

MSD crews were called to repair the hole, which sewer construction inspector Dave Rieman says is the largest cave-in he has seen in 10 to 15 years.

"Cave-ins are common, but not ones this big," Rieman said. "These pipes are put together in two or three sections. Sometimes they open up a little but not collapse like I believe this one did."

Records show that the pipe is likely 101 years old, Rieman said.

"Most of the infrastructure is more than 100 years old, and there is a critical need for continual reinvestment in replacing and improving infrastructure to prevent potentially dangerous situations like this," an MSD release said.

Workers brought replacement pipes to the site before 7 a.m. Friday. The damaged pipe runs 30 feet under the road. With the sinkhole 15 feet deep, crews will have to dig to fix the problem.

Sewer service in the area is not affected, a worker said Friday morning. Rieman also said no one has reported any backups and people in the area can use all utilities.

The road where the sinkhole occurred is mainly used as a turnaround for Metro buses and as an exit for one of the zoo's main parking lots. About 200 workers from the Cincinnati VA Medical Center had to park in the VA garage because the sinkhole blocked access to the employee parking lot, said spokeswoman Amanda Eisenlohr.

"This is probably not the best place for this to happen because the VA hospital and the zoo park over here," Rieman said. "If it wasn't for the zoo, however, it would be as prime as you could get for something like this to happen."

The sinkhole shouldn't affect operations at the zoo much, said Mark Fisher, vice president of facilities.

It will, however, affect the zoo's main parking lot on Vine Street. More staff will be needed to direct traffic in and out of the lot, he said. People who park in the Vine Street lot who normally would exit on Shields Street will have to exit onto Vine Street.

"It's an inconvenience, but it isn't the end of the world," Fisher said. "Our customers won't see a difference."

Parking at nearby Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center wasn't impacted.

Reporter Keith Biery Golick contributed

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