Along the northwest portion of the Benton circle, near the Colonnade and Concourse park, yellow caution tape and orange netting surround the opening of a large sinkhole, just yards away from traffic circling the roundabout. The orange and white reflective barriers that were placed there to alert residents of the cavern have now fallen into the sinkhole themselves.
The orange netting was just recently placed around the crater during the last week of January, blocking off a section of the sidewalk from pedestrians.
While no parts of the sidewalk have collapsed or cracked, there is a small segment of sidewalk with the ground completely washed away underneath, leaving the footpath suspended in air, supported by nothing.
During the first ten minutes of observing the sinkhole, three people attempted to use the sidewalk: one on a bike, who rode over a part of the collapsed netting, a pedestrian on foot, and one person walking their dog.
James Wang, Project Manager, says steps are being taken to get this resolved. He said McClure Engineering was commissioned last year to develop repair plans for this project.
Roughly $600,000 in construction funds have also been requested from the General Obligation Bond Program (GO Bond) to finance the repairs. A general obligation bond is a municipal bond backed by the credit and taxing power of the issuing jurisdiction rather than the revenue from a given project.
“As of today,” said Wang, “engineering survey and geotechnical testing have been completed. Final engineering plans will be completed in the next two months, and construction is expected to begin in June, as soon as construction funding becomes available.”
He also said residents should avoid walking next to the sinkhole.
No specific information was given as to exactly how deep the sinkhole is, or whether the erosion compromises the integrity of the roundabout– a popular intersection in the Northeast community that sees plenty of traffic.