WINDSOR — The sudden appearance of a sinkhole has made a Walkerville residential street impassable to motor traffic.
Located in middle of the road in the 1200 block of Pierre Avenue, the cave-in is currently surrounded by road closure signs and has been covered with a heavy wooden lid.
“I know if I jumped in there, I wouldn’t be able to jump out of it,” said Pierre Avenue resident John Mazza, who called 311 about the hole over the weekend.
“It’s kind of scary to think there are probably other holes like that in the city. Because you never know.”
The City of Windsor’s maintenance division estimates the hole measures more than six feet deep and about four feet wide.
City maintenance manager Pete Matheson said repair crews will likely have to dig even deeper – perhaps to 12 feet – in order to fix the problem.
“It’s nothing to send any red flags about,” Matheson said Monday.
Mazza said he first noticed a worsening spot in the road about a year ago, but he didn’t realize the depth of the hole until the pavement collapsed Saturday.
“I’m in the kitchen and I hear the neighbour kid: ‘Hey, there’s a hole in the road!’”
Mazza said he and other residents tried to cover the hole with plywood and divert traffic until city workers arrived.
“Now that I’m looking at the street, I’m seeing the cracks. You can see the stress lines forming. I’m thinking, ‘Holy cow,’” Mazza said.
“If a semi-truck would’ve come down the street that day, that would have been it.”
According to Matheson, the depression was caused by a failure in one of the underground pipes leading from a catch basin on the side of the road to the main storm pipe under the middle of the street.
During rainy weather, water has been escaping the catch basin pipe and eroding the soil bed beneath the pavement.
Mark Winterton, manager of contracts and field services, said the city has a “proactive” video inspection program that’s meant to discover such issues before they develop into sinkholes.
Despite the size of the Pierre Avenue hole, both Matheson and Winterton described it as a routine city infrastructure issue and said the public needn’t feel alarmed.
“These are 100-year-old pipes, in a lot of cases,” Winterton said. “On occasion, they’ll break down and you’ll have this kind of thing happen.”
Matheson said the city has an annual sewer and storm drain maintenance budget of about $3.5 million.
Watch the video below of John Mazza, who was one of the first to report a large hole in the middle of Pierre Avenue near Lanspeary Park, July 23, 2012. Mazza moved his own vehicle to cover the hole until City of Windsor crews arrived.