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Richmond sinkhole repair may take more than year

May 3, 2010 5:36:55 PM PDT
Residents in a Richmond neighborhood have learned that the sinkhole that destroyed their main road may not be fixed for more than a year.

A temporary road built was shut down Sunday due to safety concerns then reopened Monday. Engineers say the road is now safe, allowing residents to access the area.

The hole is 40 feet wide, 30 feet deep, 120 feet long and one big headache for people who live in the area.

"It's just been a huge inconvenience," one resident told ABC7.

They have one way into their neighborhood and one way out, and since last month, they have had a sinkhole right in the middle of it. On Sunday, more erosion closed the road again forcing residents to temporarily hike home.

It is day 19 and there appears to be no end in sight.

Richmond City engineer Edric Kwan says, "The worst case scenario would be 14 months."

That is one year and two months to fix a sinkhole so big it swallowed a car. Crews need to build a new two-lane road for residents and maybe even replace the entire 30-year-old underground pipe that could be to blame for the collapse.

Nearly three weeks later, no one knows for sure what caused it.

"I don't think I have a choice," said resident Randall Maynard when asked if he could endure 14 more months of traffic issues.

"They will still have access to their community. They'll still have utility services. It should not affect them that significantly," Edric says.

The sinkhole is affecting Richmond's bottom line. The city cannot afford the $7.5 million price tag. The city asked the governor to declare a state of emergency and help pick up the tab. Richmond is still waiting to hear back.

"We're going to seek out sources of funding in every way possible," said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. "This couldn't have come, frankly, at a worse time, when we're struggling for funds."

Residents who live in the 200 homes off Via Verdi Road are struggling too, some to move out. The sinkhole is preventing even that from happening.

"My moving company says they're not coming up over that," Leslie May told ABC7. "It says nothing over five tons can come over there."

The access road may be open again, but some residents still feel trapped.

Initially, there was question as to where exactly the sinkhole was located, whether it was on county property or city property. Engineers have determined officially that the sinkhole is in Richmond, which means it is not only Richmond's problem to fix, but also Richmond's problem to pay for.


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