Apparently That Sunset Park Sinkhole Had Been Reported for Years


Remember the gaping sinkhole that mercilessly ripped open a Sunset Park street on Tuesday morning? Well apparently one guy in the neighborhood, Dennis Pascale, had noticed the intersection of 5th Avenue and 64th Street gradually slumping for seven years, and tells the New York Daily News that repeated calls to 311 yielded nothing in the form of inspections from city authorities. 

In a letter written to the News, Pascale lays bare his fruitless calls to emergency responders:

 I live directly next to the Brooklyn sinkhole that opened on Tuesday (“Hole-y moley, says B’klyn nabe,” Aug. 5). For the past seven years, I and other neighbors have been calling 311 to report that the area where the sinkhole developed had been getting deeper and deeper. Last year, all of Fifth Ave. was repaved, with heavy construction equipment rolling over this spot, yet nothing was done about it. About two months ago, a small fire nearby necessitated that the Fire Department use a hydrant across from this area. Apparently, a small pipe broke in the process and leaked until about a week ago, when a construction crew fixed the pipe — again using heavy equipment on top of where the sinkhole developed. New York City blew the call on this, big-time. Fortunately, no one was injured, nor was any property damaged. Why bother to call 311 when you see something of this magnitude if the city’s not going to at least investigate it? Someone needs to be held responsible for this.

While the prospect of these car-swallowing monster-holes opening up on poorly maintained roads remains pretty slim, it’s not altogether impossible. Gizmodo is quick to point out that potholes, which can turn into sinkholes over time, need either an abundant water supply from something like a leaking pipe, or a really rainy environment to foster gradual erosion over time.

Water intrusion into asphalt, typically from an improper seal, first penetrates into the substrate below, loosening the underlying soil. Combined with the near constant rumble of vehicle tires overhead—especially the gigantic 18-wheeler cargo trucks that DoT engineers in Eisenhower’s day never imagined—and the liquefied soil will start to erode.

This is still a highly unlikely scenario, but as Bushwick resident Jonathan Taylor writes in an email, another neglected hole in his neighborhood has been a little worrisome. He writes in stark terms about a cavity with seemingly endless depth that formed on Melrose Street.

Maybe a month or two there was a hole (about a foot wide) that opened up under the asphalt at the corner of Melrose and Knickerbocker. If you shined a flashlight inside, you couldn’t see the bottom. A week or so later, the city dumped a bunch of gravel/cement into it, but that just opened it up even more. Then last week, the city injected it and smoothed it over with asphalt, but I’m betting that’s only a temporary fix. It’s right on the corner, and I’m just waiting for it to swallow the SUV that parks right next to it.

Here’s the hole’s location, according to Taylor:


It might seem a little apocalyptic, but it gives one pause when thinking about other potential craters-in-the-making that might lurk throughout various neighborhoods.

Be careful out there, people.

Follow Sam Blum on Twitter @Blumnessmonster


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