Hole new problem: City doing poor job repairing Ridge sinkhole, say locals

Hole new problem: City doing poor job repairing Ridge sinkhole, say locals
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Talk about a sinking feeling.

The city has finally filled in a recurring sinkhole that swallowed most of a Bay Ridge bike lane, but locals gripe that because the street’s asphalt continues to sag, it’s just going to cave in again. Shoveling asphalt is just a temporary fix unless something is done about the underlying cause, said one community leader.

“This particular pothole has been there for some time. It’s been filled and then sunk again, and filled and sunk,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “It’d be more effective to fix whatever is causing it. Clearly it’s being undermined by something — they have to determine what and fix it.”

It took the city nearly two weeks to investigate the two-foot-wide cave-in on 72nd Street and Third Avenue after Beckmann alerted the Department of Transportation. But the agency referred the issue to the Department of Environmental Protection, which handles water infrastructure, assuming that a leaky pipe was to blame. But that agency determined that the street is sinking because of nearby Con Edison infrastructure, according to a city rep.

Now repairing the real issue falls to Con Edison, which did not respond to requests for comment.

In the meantime, the city temporarily paved the gaping hole, which obstructed a bike lane, but shoddy work still left the street with a deep dip and cyclists would rather bike in the street than roll over the uneven ground, said one block local.

“Today I had to basically avoid it, which defeats the purpose of a bike lane,” said Ridgite Alejandro Suarez, who felt the difference rolling over the repairs on July 6. “They patched it but it’s not level and is still a hazard.”

Since then, city workers have returned for additional repairs but the street is still not level, and instead of a dip a small mound of asphalt creates a separate hazard for cyclists.

Sinking feeling: It took roughly two weeks for officials to fix this reoccurring sinkhole on 72nd Street, seen here on July 5, but the underlying cause remains a mystery.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

It is absurd that the depression has turned into such a debacle, said another cyclist.

“This is such a simple thing to get right. Instead of just dumping asphalt, flatten it out,” said Ridgite Rich Molinaro. “But what’s even the point? Because won’t it just sink again. Instead of dragging their feet addressing the problem, do it all right at once.”

Workers returned yet again on July 10, and placed a metal sheet over the trouble patch.

It has been more than a decade since that stretch of 72nd Street has been repaved and possibly longer since it received major upgrades, which is probably why the city is having trouble keeping the pavement even, said Beckmann.

“That street is really bad,” she said. “When you travel up it, it feels like you’re driving over speed bumps, but that’s just the street.”

Community Board 10 has advocated for city funds to overhaul the street for years, but to no avail. And it does not help matters that no one wants to take responsibility for the street.

Investigators with the Department of Environmental Protection may have determined that it’s up to Con Edison to get to the bottom of issue, but it wouldn’t be the first time in the area the agency passed the buck to the utility company when the responsibility actually fell to the city, said Beckmann.

“That interesting that they referred it to Con Ed, because last time that happened, it turned out it was a water issue the Department of Environmental Protection had to fix,” said Beckmann. “I guess we’ll see.”

The cavalry: On July 10 workers laid down a metal plate over the problem spot.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.