DEP: 92nd Street sinkhole to be fixed by end of September

August 28, 2012 Denise Romano
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The 92nd Street sinkhole will be completely fixed by the end of September according to Department of Environmental Protection officials who made the announcement at a meeting hosted by Community Board 10 at the Shore Hill Community Room on August 27.

DEP Deputy Commissioner James Roberts told a room full of residents that their comments from the lively August 9 meeting had “resonated” with him.

“This is a disruption to everyone’s life and we accept that,” he said, adding that since the last meeting the agency is “significantly more knowledgeable in understanding how we could fix the problem.”

Roberts said that crews are working around the clock in three-hour shifts to close up the 70-feet deep sinkhole that formed on June 28.

Assistant Commissioner Ed Coleman presented a construction schedule for the site, noting that unforeseen setbacks, such as Monday’s thunderstorm, could hinder the process.

“Our goal today was to install a permanent sleeve, but we couldn’t slide it in [because it got filled with rain water],” he said, adding that the new installation date is Wednesday, August 29.

“Once that is installed, we will install forms to pour concrete on upstream and downstream ends [of the sleeve]. Once the walls are constructed, the concrete has to cure for two days,” Coleman said. “Then, on September 4, we strip the forms, then begin to set riser sections, which are eight feet in diameter, one on top of another.”

Workers will then backfill the hole, which will take about 10 days to set, ending on Wednesday, September 19. Then, the street will be paved and the road can be open to traffic sometime before the end of the month.

On September 24, the temporary bypass pipes on 92nd Street between Third and Fourth Avenues will be removed.

“Because we are so deep, we are utilizing techniques we don’t use every day,” Roberts explained. “We are trying to expedite and get work done as fast as possible. Our biggest concern is to get that hole closed for you so you don’t have to look at it.”

But residents say that the site still stinks.

“We did see some action, but the problem persists…it’s toxic,” said a resident living on 92nd Street and Shore Road, who wished to remain anonymous.

Brian Fitzgerald also lives on Shore Road and said can’t open his windows at night due to the unpleasant odor, forcing him to use his air conditioner constantly.

“The smell is the same as when it happened. How can we be compensated for higher bills?” he asked. Roberts said he would put Fitzgerald in touch with DEP officials who could help compensate for his electric bills.

Although residents contended that the odor could be harmful to their health, Councilmember Vincent Gentile assuaged their fears.

“There were similar odors at the Owls Head Treatment Plant and we did an air quality study three years ago,” Gentile said. “Although [the odors] were unpleasant, they were not harmful or toxic. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, it will all be over.”

Gentile also encouraged residents who received wrongful tickets during the construction to contact his office.

Roberts promised that neighbors would receive advanced notice if their driveways would be blocked.

“This seems hopeful,” commented Community Board 10 Chairperson Joanne Seminara.

Community Board 10 Environmental Committee Chairperson Bob HuDock asked if DEP if it could “push forward the inspection system,” contending, “I think we deserve a little bit more attention before the community board gets more sinkholes.”

Roberts contended that Brooklyn has better infrastructure than the rest of the city as a whole.

“There is no illusion that I can sell that these things are unrelated,” he said. “We have already done a lot of inspections. Not all holes in the street belong to us [DEP]. More than two-thirds of the conditions [in the streets] are due to home and water services.”

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