City: We’re not replacing century-old sewer system

Residents: Ridge streets are caving in
Photo by Steve Solomonson

City Department of Environmental Preservation heads shrugged off concerns that Bay Ridge will sink into the earth last week, claiming that fears over the city’s century-old underground pipes breaking down and leaving the neighborhood riddled with sinkholes are completely unfounded.

Residents who witnessed a 70-foot-deep pit form at the corner of Third Avenue and 92nd Street followed by a section of 79th Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues open up and nearly swallow a car — plus a host of other cave-ins that appeared across the community in recent weeks — say its time to replace the 110-year-old water and sewer pipes snaking under neighborhood streets, but Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Jim Roberts said he’s not concerned by the age of the city’s underground infrastructure.

“The fact that these pipes went in in 1902 does not bother me,” Roberts said on Thursday as he updated residents about the ongoing effort to fill the sinkhole on 92nd Street. “I do not believe this is a systemic problem.”

Roberts said that pipes made at the turn of the 20th Century were extremely strong and other waste and water ducts installed at the same time have yet to break down. The 92nd and 79th street sinkholes are completely unrelated since they occurred along different sewer lines, he explained.

But that did little to calm concerned residents who are watching sinkholes open up all around them.

“We’re concerned about safety because we have had two major sinkholes open up in our community in the past months,” said Community Board 10 member Bob Hudock.

Roberts said it remained unclear if the age of the sewer lines caused the sinkholes on 92nd and 79th streets to form, admitting that crews digging out the 92nd Street sinkhole haven’t reached the sewer pipe, even though the burrow was formed more than six weeks ago.

The cave-in on 79th Street has been repaired and filled in, Roberts said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman