It’s a Sunset miracle!
After 13 months, the 20 foot wide and 20 foot deep sinkhole that opened up near 64th Street and Fifth Avenue has been 100 percent repaired. On Friday, September 2, the street was ready for buses, bikers, cars and pedestrians.
“Repair work is complete, including new curbs and sidewalks,” a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) told this paper. “The roadway has been surfaced and is open to traffic.”
The announcement was music to the ears of many Sunset residents, including Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District (BID).
“It’s such a huge relief, especially for buses and people that rely on them,” she said as the B63 made stops near the intersection again. “Someone said they are so used to taking a different path. It’s going to take a while for people to get used to it being back.”
Local stores near the sinkhole also suffered during the intersection closure. “It really created a mess for business there and other side,” Giordano added. “In representing the businesses and residents in the BID district, it was important for us to get involved. An essential need was getting the water back on for the Wash Club laundry business across from the sinkhole.”
On Tuesday, August 4 2015, at around 7 a.m., the hole formed, stretching across almost the entire intersection. There were many estimations as to when repairs would be completed, ranging from November 2015 to sometime in 2017.
“It was a really massive problem. The hole went down 100 feet or so and was one of the worst sinkholes in the history of the city,” Giordano said, contending that, nonetheless, repairs could’ve been made faster. “The City Department of Design and Construction dragged its feet. They designed proposals and how it could be done. It kept changing and took months before it was approved.”
Sunset Park residents were frustrated with the timeline as well as frightened that a similar hole would form elsewhere. “Residents contacted the BID and me on Sunset Parker to complain about the lack of information, coordination and signage to direct traffic, pedestrians and bus passengers,” said Tony Giordano, created of the popular Sunset Parker Facebook page. “Things were moving very well at that point until the NYC Department of Design and Construction put it on the back burner.”
During the process, many residents voiced their anger. “It’s outrageous that it’s taken so long,” said Chris Robles, co-counsel and legal representative for the Village of Sunset Park said in the middle of construction. “Part of the problem is that we don’t spend enough money maintaining infrastructure. Sunset Park gets shafted.”
However, the BID’s Giordano applauded contractor company John P. Picone Incorporated. “It took a while but we’re happy it finally got fixed,” she said. “They did a really incredible job and did what they had to do to ensure that it won’t happen again at that spot. Once they had the plans, then they tried to move as quickly as could. Many times during the night, the last two weeks, they worked around the clock.”
Although this sinkhole is fixed, others in Sunset continue to form, such as one on 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Giordano hopes that the 13 months of repairs serves as a cautionary tale. “Our infrastructure is having issues,” she said. “It’s over 100 years old here. There’s been lots of wear and tear on the roads.”