Bay Ridge wants streets ripped up to stop sinkholes

Underground pipes need to be replaced before Bay Ridge is swallowed by the earth, critics say

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Bay Ridge is dangerously close to collapsing in on itself and being swallowed up by the earth, say residents and civic leaders who are demanding that the city repair the broken century-old sewer and water pipes they say have created a number of sinkholes and collapses on neighborhood streets.

Residents say that the massive 20-foot sinkhole on 79th Street near Fourth Avenue (inset) that nearly gobbled up a car last Thursday is just the latest in a litany of street cave ins and depressions that have formed throughout the community in recent months.

“This city is falling apart,” said Diane Wood, who lives just a few paces from the 79th Street sinkhole. “They need to do something about it instead of just looking at it.”

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, said her office has logged several complaints about sinkholes and street collapses.

Roughly a month before a section of 79th Street was sucked into the earth, a 70-foot-deep pit opened up on 92nd Street and Third Avenue. In both cases cracked water mains were to blame.

But Beckmann says several other sinkholes have appeared in the neighborhood recently, including:

• Sixth Avenue between Ovington Avenue and 72nd Street, where Beckmann says small sinkholes and depressions have been forming from a leaking water pipe running underneath the avenue.

• 78th Street between Third and Fourth avenues, where a small sinkhole opened in July.

• 92nd Street and Marine Avenue, where a small sinkhole formed roughly two blocks from the 70-foot chasm at Third Avenue.

Some fear that the sinkholes and depressions that are popping up around Bay Ridge, which are a far cry from the giant holes found in Guatemala and can usually be patched with a dollop of asphalt, are a symptom of something falling apart under our feet.

“When things start to break down in places, it’s a sight that the system is going and you need to work on it,” said Bay Ridge resident Mike Morris, who wants the city to tear up the streets and replace the neighborhood’s entire underground infrastructure.

Others want the city to take action before a sinkhole opens right underneath a hapless resident.

“God forbid, somebody is inside one of the cars that falls in the next time this happens and they die,” resident Donna O’Connor said. “They need to fix it now.”

Yet the city says it’s not sure if all the sinkholes and depressions are caused by an aging infrastructure.

A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Preservation said workers are still digging toward the broken sewers mains at both 92nd and 79th streets, and it remains unclear if the breaks were caused by old age.

“We don’t know for sure yet what caused it,” the spokesman said.

No matter what the cause, local pols think it’s high time to replace the 100-year-old pipes before the streets give out underneath everyone.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that our streets must literally collapse before getting the attention of the pertinent agencies,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). “The city needs to stop ignoring the elephant in the room.”

State sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) agreed with his longtime sparring partner, claiming that a large-scale renovation of the city’s water and sewer pipes would save more money — and possibly lives — than repairing sinkholes whenever they pop up.

“It’s been band-aid, band-aid, band-aid, but eventually you need surgery,” Golden said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at Follow him on Twitter at
Updated 5:35 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Nicole from Bay Ridge says:
This article is written in a very dramatic tone! Jeez!
Aug. 8, 2012, 8:24 am
sajh from brooklyn says:
Sounds like a plan. Apply a special assessment for all properties in the area to fund the replacement of the system. A 5-10% assessment on yearly property tax should do the trick. Watch the tone change.
Aug. 8, 2012, 8:49 am
Who will pay from it says:
Let Bay Ridge pay for it
Aug. 8, 2012, 9:17 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
Sajh, great suggestion. Except, I'd amend that idea to say an assessment on all drivers in Bay Ridge, since it is the streets we're talking about. Let's see what that does for the pro-car trolls like SwampYankee who live in the neighborhood.
Aug. 8, 2012, 12:51 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
It's a pity characters like Or and SwampYankee have devoted so much energy to slagging folks in every other part of the borough, calling them hippies and hipsters and ——-waffles (that was a gem from Pat). And now that the earth is opening up to swallow their neighbourhood let's see how quickly all of those hippies and hipsters and ——-waffles rush to lend them aid.

And you know what? They probably will rush to help, because unlike SwampYankee and Or and their ilk, all those hippies and hipsters and ——-waffles do what men do, which is to help people, even people they don't like, in need.
Aug. 8, 2012, 12:57 pm
Mike from Bay Ridge says:

Of course they know what caused it. Why do we accept that answer? These people jump down sewers and walk under streets for 20 years. They know the cause but they don't want to say because no one wants to be responsible.
Aug. 8, 2012, 5:53 pm
Mike from Also from Bay Ridge says:
They don't know what caused it? They say they are still digging? Today is the 8th, the same as the story, yet they are almost finished covering up the story....I mean hole....
Aug. 8, 2012, 9:54 pm
Mike from Also from Bay Ridge says:
They don't know what caused it? They say they are still digging? Today is the 8th, the same as the story, yet they are almost finished covering up the story....I mean hole....
Aug. 8, 2012, 9:54 pm
Steve from Bay Ridge says:
More tax cuts! That'll fix it for sure!
Aug. 8, 2012, 11:45 pm
Obdeiah says:
Marty Golden took credit for both sinkholes. He held a press conference before realizing no one liked the sinkholes so he held another press conference to blame them on someone else.
Aug. 8, 2012, 11:52 pm
Marty from Ft Greene says:
Bay Ridge...isn't that the most Republican neighborhood in Brooklyn? Maybe Hell is just reclaiming its own...!
Aug. 9, 2012, 11:48 am
lbj from Bay Ridge says:
What about the sinkhole on 18th street in Park Slope? I guess you have lots of pro-car trolls there as well. There are many seniors and people with disabilities living in Bay Ridge who must use cars. Fort Greene says Bay Ridge is the most Republican neighborhood in Brooklyn? Very misinformed. Both the senior story and the Republican story must have been from the Daily News article 2 Sundays ago. The working class people that I know (countless, including myself) are not Republicans and trust me I have lived here all my life - over 50 years. As far as increasing our property taxes, we pay way over the amount that millionaires in Manhattan pay. How about stopping the tractor trailers that deliver groceries to the mega supermarkets and then drive down our residential streets which should not be truck routes. I find it interesting that a few blocks in the Ridge have no truck route signs. But, only a few. Guess there are not many Democrats on those blocks. Get a life and stop wishing you lived in Bay Ridge.
Aug. 9, 2012, 8:25 pm
AD from BR says:
Hey - a lot of good progressive types live here too - don't generalize or you are as bad the narrow minded people you oppose!
Aug. 10, 2012, 1:22 pm
Heather from Bay ridge says:
Am wondering if anything has been done to get someone to check the roads in bay ridge for any more potential sinkholes. They could probably check through a sensor or radar type that can detect if the roads are hallow and giving way. Your story is compelling and truthful. I noticed another mini sinkhole ready to open on corner of 87 th street and colonial road!
March 6, 2013, 5:29 am

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