Roadway Sinkhole Caused by Broken Sewer Pipe – Bensonhurst Brooklyn

June 30, 2013
Roadway sinkhole

A sinkhole had started to form over a three month period on a small side street in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, at first none of the neighbors thought twice about it as there were a few medium sized cracks forming in the roadway.  One month later the cracks started to give way forming a dip in the roadway. At this point neighboring homeowners started to contact the city to prevent a potentially dangerous situation.

DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) started to assess the problem by checking the water lines of all neighbors which came up negative.  DEP now started to investigate all neighbors’ sewer lines by performing a camera inspection to locate a broken pipe.  It is common that the sewage from a broken pipe would cause the soil to erode resulting in a collapsed roadway.  After one week’s investigation one of the neighbors were issued a DEP cease and desist notice stating that they had 30 days to repair the sewer line before further actions would take place.

Installing pipe under sidewalk

Harris Water Main & Sewer Contractors discovered that the break was in-between the sidewalk and the roadway which is where they began excavating for the sewer line repair.  The sewer line was located 8’ below ground level where it was determined that a section of old clay pipe had separated from cast iron pipe which was installed during a previous sewer line repair.  This is the exact point where the street had collapsed which left a 10×10 area below ground level completely hollow.  The sewage from the house was not reaching the city sewer line; it had been escaping into the surrounding soil causing the street to sink.  This particular house had one person living in it for over 15 years, if this sewer line break had formed in a house where there were more people living in it, the sewage would have started to back up in the house before the roadway collapsed.  The amount of water being used in this house led to very little sewage seeping into the soil over an extended period of time, the soil would have oversaturated if there was more water being used, which would have resulted in a sewage backup in the house.

Harris completed the repair and waited for the DEP inspector to review the installation which satisfied the Cease & Desist Order that was issued earlier in the month.  The street was a “protected street” which called for a special backfill, compaction test of the soil and restoration requirements once the street was ready to be paved.

Bensonhurst Brooklyn – A Brief History

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Bensonhurst is a large, amorphous area consisting of several neighborhoods, in the southwestern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, in the United States. It is surrounded by Dyker Heights, Boro Park, Flatbush or Midwood, and Gravesend.

Bensonhurst derives its name from Arthur W. Benson, the former president of Brooklyn Gas, who in 1835 began buying farmland that formerly belonged to the Polhemus family. Between 1835 and 1850 Benson divided the farmland into generous lots that were sold in the following decades as part of the newly created suburb of Bensonhurst by the Sea (current day Bath Beach section),which was annexed into the 30th Ward of Brooklyn in the 1890s.

Bensonhurst was formerly stereotyped as a haven for Mafia members. However, currently the neighborhood is undergoing a transformation; many of the original houses dating back over 90 years ago are being torn down and replaced by three-story brick apartment buildings and multi-family condominiums, sometimes referred to as “Fedders Houses” for their distinctive air conditioner sleeves.

Visitors from throughout the New York City metropolitan area flock to the neighborhood each year in late August or early September to take part in the colorful Festa di Santa Rosalia (commonly known as “the Feast” to locals), held on 18th Avenue from Bay Ridge Parkway (75th Street) to 66th Street. “The Feast” is presented by Bensonhurst resident and skilled marketer Franco Corrado, as well as by the Santa Rosalia Society, on 18th Avenue. Born in Rome in 1955, Corrado has been an active social member of the Italian-American community for the past 20 years. St. Rosalia is the patron saint of the city of Palermo and is sometimes venerated as the patron for the entire island of Sicily. The annual end-of-summer celebration attracts thousands. Bensonhurt also hosts a Columbus Day parade.

Demonstrating the identical trend as adjacent Lower Manhattan in New York City, Bensonhurst’s Little Italy is declining concomitantly with its Italian American population, being uprooted by the rapidly expanding Bensonhurst Chinatown and its attendant Chinese population.

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Making sure the dirt being removed is at least a foot away from the hole is important. 
No debris should fall back into the tunnels as the team is working 

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