Sinkhole in Bay Ridge: this time on 79th Street

August 2, 2012 Denise Romano
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A sinkhole formed on 79th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues on Wednesday, August 1 at around 4:30 p.m., making it the second sinkhole in as many months in Bay Ridge.

The hole, about 15 feet wide, 20 feet long and 10 to 12 feet deep, had two cars partially stuck in it, but they were removed by the Fire Department shortly after the hole formed.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile said that the 79th Street sinkhole – and the one that formed on 92nd Street off of Third Avenue last month – are due to “New York City’s old and deteriorating underground structure” which is well over a century old.

“While this may be the nature of the aging infrastructure situation in many large cities, wecannot simplysit on our hands and wait for things like this to happen. We need to be proactive and prevent this from ever happening again by addressing the integrity of our city’s underground infrastructure,” Gentile said. “Fortunately there were no injuries but it is absolutely unacceptable that our streets must literally collapse before getting the attention of the pertinent agencies. The city needs to stop ignoring the elephant in the room.

No one was injured and no homes were evacuated, although one home across the street did not have water or gas for a few hours, Gentile said.

According to a Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson, there is a 50-inch sewer main that runs below 79th Street, which is about 20 feet below the roadway. Emergency contractors were on the site right after the sinkhole formed and began excavating. Once workers reach the damaged sewer pipe, which DEP believes may be compromised, they can determine how extensive the repairs will be.

The spokesperson added that work will be done throughout the weekend and the street will be closed until further notice.

Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann noted that Bay Ridge is 150 years old – and so is its infrastructure.

“I am grateful in this case that no one was hurt,” she said. “Residents should be mindful and watch out for street cave-ins or depressions. Any other indicators should be reported to avoid any other tragedies.”

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