San Francisco

Repairs to Come For SOMA's Sinkhole That Swallowed SUV

Officials say a broken sewer line caused the sinkhole in the South of Market District.

Crews began repair work Wednesday on a growing sinkhole in San Francisco, one so big that firefighters had to rescue a family inside an SUV that got stuck inside of it a day earlier.

Officials said a broken sewer line on Tuesday caused the 12 feet long by 5 feet wide sinkhole to form on Mission Street, between New Montgomery and 2nd Street. The sinkhole is 9 feet deep, according to officials. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesperson Jean Walsh said repair work could last through Friday.

Crews are preparing the area so they can replace a broken 3-by-5-foot brick sewer main, PUC officials said.

No injuries from Tuesday's incident were reported, but police said the family was shaken up. They were using a ride-sharing service to get transported to the airport when the vehicle got stuck at about 5:30 p.m.

Witness Monica Berini, a San Francisco resident, said firefighters threw a rope around the vehicle during the rescue.

The sewer line that broke dates back to 1875, according to Charles Sheehan with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

NBC Bay Area
Officials say a broken sewer line caused the sinkhole in the South of Market District. May 10, 2016

"Usually with sewer lines that old, age is likely cause of the break," Sheehan said.

Once crews receive a replacement sewer pipe, work will begin Friday to install it. The pipe is 36 inches in diameter and repairs are tentatively scheduled to be completed by Sunday.

Until then, crews will install a bypass pipe, according to the utility.

Sewer service and water service have not been affected, the PUC said.

The sinkhole snarled traffic and rerouted Muni service. Mission Street will remain closed between New Montgomery and Second Street through Wednesday.

The sinkhole adds to San Francisco's sewer system showing its age.

In April, a sewer main break caused a sinkhole on Sacramento Street. Another sinkhole appeared in Noe Valley in December.

SFPUC officials said it is working to replace the aging system.

"We have accelerated our repairs and replacement program a few years ago," Sheehan said. "We did a few miles a year and now we're doing 15 miles a year of sewer line replacement."

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