Repairs underway for massive sinkhole along 610 South Loop

April 30, 2013 10:05:40 AM PDT
Public works crews are working hard to repair a sinkhole which has grown overnight in southwest Houston.

What began as a 12-inch sinkhole off the 610 South Loop feeder road has expanded to a hole that's 18 feet in diameter and an estimated 20 feet deep. It is located on Holt Street which connects to the South Loop feeder road near Almeda, and it appears to be creeping closer to the outside lane.

People who operate businesses here say it is a horrible inconvenience.

"People have a hard enough time coming across town simply finding your address, and to get here, there's a big hole in the ground, they don't know how to navigate their way around," said Russell Gregory, Global Electronics General Manager.

"If they don't do something, somebody is going to die," said business owner Tony Patronella. "If they hadn't come in and roped it off, if we hadn't gone in and roped it off, if someone had gone in there, they would have died."

They say they reported a sewer odor to the city eight months ago and are frustrated this has happened.

"We talked with the city, made them aware that there was something going on here," Gregory said.

The culprit, contractors say, was a combination of the heavy rainfall we had a few days ago, and a sewer line that is decades old. It was caused when water from an 8-inch broken sewer line washed away the soil underneath the asphalt, causing it to collapse.

"A lot of rain water starts getting into the sewer and the system can't hold the capacity and it starts breaking," said Ramon Torres with T. Construction.

The line broke at about 3pm Monday, and at around 9:30pm contractors and the city of Houston arrived to begin assessing a lengthy repair process.

"We gotta dry the hole, it's probably gonna take us about two weeks," Torres said.

Drivers on the 610 South Loop feeder road are being diverted around the hole, reducing the lanes, and at times, backing up traffic.

"When I first got here there was a lot of traffic out here, and everybody had to get over, but they had men out here working," said driver Toni Johnson.

The city confirms eight months ago it did perform a repair on a different section of the sewer line, but they say there's no way to predict or prevent this type of cave-in from happening.

Contractors say these sewer lines can be as old as 40 years old and unpredictable when it comes to possible rupturing.

It could be a couple of days, according to the city, for it to be repaired, but it shouldn't pose a threat to drivers now that the process has begun.

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