By Carol Tannenhauser
“Sinkhole at 64 West 85th Street,” a reader texted West Side Rag on Tuesday morning.
The Rag reached out to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to find out what had happened and why, but their response was, “Do you have a photo you can share with us?”
Talk about breaking news.
Our reader estimates the sinkhole was four-and-a-half feet long on top, and nine feet long when you got close and looked inside. “The pavement is supported by nothing,” he reported.
Just about this time last July, two sinkholes opened up in the neighborhood, one swallowing two cars. This one appears to be taking up a parking space.
Water drainage and New York City’s aging infrastructure are commonly cited reasons for sinkholes. “It seems safe to say that the new multi-foot-deep depressions in New York are the result of the city’s deeply outdated underground infrastructure, whose average age is 66 years old,” wrote Architectural Digest. “It’s true: The once-innovative systems…that have kept New York running have become so fragile in their old age that they’re quite literally dying on us.”
We’ll update with a fuller explanation when we hear from DEP.
Update, 5:30 pm: the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent us the following information about our reader’s sinkhole:
“The investigation for this location is ongoing. DEP is backfilling the collapse with asphalt to make it safe (temporarily) until the investigation can be completed.
“When a roadway collapse such as this occurs, DEP will respond to check all of its subsurface infrastructure – as well as the privately owned water/sewer pipes in the area.
“A leak on a water main, sewer or private water/sewer service line could wash away soil under the roadway and lead to a collapse of the asphalt.
“If DEP finds all of its infrastructure, as well as privately owned water/sewer lines, operating properly with no leaks, the location will be turned over to other utilities and/or to DOT.
“If a leak on a private pipe is found – DEP will issue an Order for the property owner to have a licensed plumber make the necessary repairs.
“If there is a leak on DEP infrastructure, repairs will be completed, new soil will be brought in to backfill the hole, and the roadway will be resurfaced.”
Thanks to Edward Timbers.