Richmond $7.5 Million in the Hole for Sunken Roadway

City declares emergency over sunken roadway

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010  |  Updated 1:30 PM PDT
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Sinkhole Devours Richmond Road

NBC Bay Area

The hole, which is 120 feet long, 30 feet deep and 40 feet wide, opened up on April 15, swallowing the only road in or out of a subdivision that contains about 85 single-family homes and about 100 apartment units.

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That giant sinkhole in Richmond is going to put a $7.5 million dent in the city's wallet.

The Richmond City Council declared a local state of emergency Tuesday night due to the massive sinkhole on Via Verdi Drive. The hole, which is 120 feet long, 30 feet deep and 40 feet wide, opened up on April 15, swallowing the only road in or out of a subdivision that contains about 85 single-family homes and about 100 apartment units, Interim City Engineer Edric Kwan said.

Repairs could take nine to 14 months to complete and the price of repairs could reach $7.5 million, Kwan told the council. The council directed the city manager to look for funding sources, but are hoping that declaring a state of emergency could make the city eligible for state funding.

Since the cave-in, crews have built a temporary one-lane road around the hole. Water and sewer districts have also rerouted pipes around the hole to restore water and sewer services to residents.

A culvert that once directed San Pablo Creek under the road collapsed when the sinkhole opened up and crews have installed a pump to reroute the creek around the area. Crews are getting the hole ready for rain to prevent further erosion, Kwan said.

The price tag on the temporary measures comes to about $1 million, Kwan said.

Engineers are still investigating whether erosion from the creek could have caused the hole and whether the developer who installed the culvert in the 1970s could be responsible for the collapse, Kwan said.

Councilman Tom Butt said that it is clear to him what happened and that this is not a sinkhole.

"We do know what happened," Butt said. "A culvert collapsed." He said he would feel better if people would stop calling it a sinkhole.

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