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Editorial: That sinking feeling

It’s only June, and already this summer’s first sinkhole has appeared.

At approximately three feet in diameter, the sinkhole that opened up on 77th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues on the evening of Monday, June 12, is certainly not one of the largest the neighborhood has seen, given the craters that have appeared in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park over the last several years.

Area residents are not likely to forget the Fifth Avenue and 64th Street sinkhole that opened up in 2015 and took 13 months to repair, or the 30 foot wide by 10 foot deep one that swallowed a portion of 79th Street  (and a car) between Fourth and Fifth Avenues back in 2012, or the nearly-70-foot-deep one that opened up on 92nd Street earlier that same summer, and remained a gaping eyesore for months as the city’s Department of Environmental Protection struggled to tame it.

But, the nabe’s newest sinkhole formed quickly, going from depression to open wound in under an hour, and we can only hope that it is not a harbinger of things to come, as the weather heats up and the asphalt melts.

The reality, of course, is that local sewers and water mains are a century old, making them extremely vulnerable, and residents are keenly aware of that fact.

“Not the first, and it won’t be the last,” commented one reader on brooklynreporter.com, which broke the news of the latest 79th Street sinkhole just an hour or so after it formed.

“Very Dangerous,” another reader wrote, and indeed it is.

We have to wonder what the city is waiting for.

It’s not like there haven’t been warnings. Over the past several years, there’s been a laundry list of locations where sinkholes — some smaller, some larger — have opened up, and have required immediate triage that, in some cases, lasted for months and months.

Enough is enough. It’s long past time for the city to pay attention to the neighborhood’s aging infrastructure before a major crisis occurs.

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