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Hudson Valley News

Aging Infrastructure: Sinkholes

Officials in the city of Kingston say repair work is expected to begin today on an expanding sinkhole that opened along a busy street. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports…

The sinkhole, formed in April near a city intersection, is being blamed on a leaky tunnel 75 feet deep that was constructed by New York City about 100 years ago.

The water authority was the precursor of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The tunnel was built under Washington Avenue between 1909 and 1912 as a result of New York City impuding the Esopus Creek for water supply purposes. In 1993 Kingston installed a storm-water shaft to divert surface waters into the tunnel - the sinkhole problem began in March 2011 and has continued. Mayor Shane Gallo says he is in contact with the DEP counsel.

To date, there has been no major structural damage reported to any of the half dozen homes near the sinkhole, but some residents have reported cracks in windows and walls.

Gallo adds the sewage treatment plant is also being constantly monitored.

Laurie Adams is Assistant Director of Public Works in Burlington Vermont, which also is experiencing a "sinkhole dilemma" along it’s Main Street. Adams  notes that for the most part, aging infrastructure in Northeastern cities is "out of sight, out of mind" - 

Infrastructure experts warn that everything built by man carries an "expiration date" --- and that alone underscores the need for continued funding of public works projects.