A huge sinkhole in Detroit opened up on Thursday. What’s being described as a sinkhole the size of a small bus shut down one entire lane of traffic shortly after noon. A collapsed sewer pipe is reportedly the cause of this most recent sinkhole in Detroit, according to ClickOnDetroit.
Just before 12:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, a sewer pipe collapsed on Detroit’s west side, opening up a sinkhole large enough to hold a small bus. At least, that’s how reporter Laura Bonnell described the sinkhole that opened up on Tireman Avenue just west of Greenfield Road. Bonnell reports for Detroit’s only all news radio station WWJ Newsradio 950.
Other witnesses said the sinkhole was the size of a semi-trailer.
Bonnell, who was on the scene of the sinkhole in Detroit, took several photos of the sinkhole from across the street, saying it measured four feet across and was at least six feet deep, maybe as deep as eight feet. A section of one side of an eastbound lane of Tireman Avenue was consumed by the massive sinkhole, causing the closure of both eastbound lanes and the surrounding sidewalk. At least one exposed gas line was shut off after the discovery of the large sinkhole, and crews immediately started work on Thursday repairing the damage.
Another WWJ Newsradio 950 reporter tweeted that sinkhole repair resumed early Friday morning.
Police started getting reports of the sinkhole in Detroit between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, but some of the photos that have been circulating online are timestamped as early as 12:08 p.m. The city has no idea how long Tireman Avenue will be shut down but said no one was injured and no homes or businesses have been affected by the opening of the sinkhole.
Detroit Water and Sewerage confirmed the sinkhole was caused by a sewage pipe that collapsed underneath Tireman Avenue but assured residents in the area that the water quality wasn’t diminished.
The sinkhole in Detroit opened up where Tireman Avenue intersects with Greenfield. Photos shared on Detroit Free Press show officers standing next to the massive hole.
“The officers appear to be dwarfed by the size of the opening in the pavement.”
Utility trucks tried to fill the sinkhole with dirt on Thursday. A spokesman for Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Bryan Peckinpaugh, told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday that the cause of the sewer pipe failure is unknown.
“We have a team en route that will place a camera down into the sewer line to identify the cause of the break in the sewer pipe. After they make that determination, we will have an estimated repair time,” Peckinpaugh said in an email on Thursday.
Thursday’s sinkhole in Detroit isn’t the first or the largest one to open up in Michigan’s most populated city. In March 2014, the Huffington Post reported on another sinkhole that opened up on Detroit’s west side. According to the report, a Cadillac narrowly missed being swallowed up by the “16-feet-deep and 30-feet-wide” sinkhole that appeared on Linwood Avenue, which was also the result of a malfunction in Detroit’s sewer system. Witnesses claimed that sinkhole probably could have fit several regular transportation buses.
Around that same time, two other sinkholes opened up in downtown Detroit. A school bus had to be pulled out of one of them, according to ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV out of Detroit.
A sinkhole that opened up on Detroit’s east side in 2015 was large enough to be turned into a fishing hole. Residents in the area of Hull Street and McNichols filled the sinkhole with fish after they were tired of dealing with it for four years.
Why are sinkholes becoming such a common occurrence in Detroit? Science Non Fiction reports that decaying sewer lines are likely the cause of urban sinkholes.
“When sewer lines begin to crack, either from age or root intrusion, the fluid that escapes starts to compact the underlying soil, creating a cavity. Without the support of the soil, the sewer line and all of the layers above it begin to dip, resulting in a man-made sinkhole.”
The report went on to say that detecting decaying sewer lines is difficult and fixing them costs time and money. Inspection of every sewer line beneath a large city can reportedly take years but is necessary to prevent future sinkholes, like the recent sinkhole in Detroit, from potentially swallowing cars on busy urban streets.
[Photo by WXYZ-TV/YouTube]