New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Our Town Sinkhole on the Upper East Side by Emily Higginbotham

Sinkhole on the Upper East Side

Days after a sinkhole partially swallowed up two cars on the Upper West Side, a second crater opened up across town on East 89th Street – forcing water outages and emergency construction at the site.

The Upper East Side sinkhole – located between York and East End avenues – was first reported shortly before 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

“New Yorkers are used to seeing potholes - this is on another level,” UES Council Member Ben Kallos told Our Town, noting that the hole was 20 feet deep and 15 by 15 feet. “We’ve never seen sinkholes in New York City, let alone sinkholes this big.”

The size of the hole grew throughout the day as crews worked to survey how much of the earth below had eroded and other possible damage. Water was shut off to two buildings on the street while crews worked, but service was restored by Thursday night. Con Edison also sent representatives to the scene to ensure the gas line stayed intact.

Though the city has massive rainfall and flash flood warnings in recent weeks, Kallos said the apparent cause of this particular sinkhole was related to a 12-inch water main and a six-inch sewer line. The Council member said he introduced legislation in May that could prevent sinkholes such as these from happening in the future.

“If we had smart meters on our water supply and on our gas, the city would have noticed the gallons and gallons of water that was missing between the building and the distribution point,” said Kallos. “We need to catch water and the gas leaks before buildings explode and sidewalks crumble, and God forbid, something like what happened to Miami happens here in New York City.”

The two sinkholes forming in the span of a few days represent an urgent problem that won’t be solved by simply repaving streets, Kallos said.

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