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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The City That Sinks

The spring rains are here, and with them some of Portland's ancient streets are collapsing into sinkholes. There's a good one going at 37th and Sandy that's getting some media attention, but an alert reader tells of another one not too far from there that seemingly is being ignored:

New Year's Day 2009 was very rainy in Portland, and this depression in the ground near SE 39th and Main got a lot bigger. It had been there a while -- around 4 feet across and a foot deep with a deep hole at one end -- but now the deep hole was around a foot-and-a-half across and just descended down into the dark unknown. A kid or a dog could fall into it and never be heard from again. So I called the City That Works and reported it on Friday, January 2nd. My wife and I were very impressed when this safety equipment showed up by the next day, and some dirt appeared to have been dumped in the bottom of the hole. But that was it -- nothing more. Lately the rains have returned, and the hole is widening again. So I'm sending you these pictures from just yesterday.

Here's the entire depression with 39th in the background:

Here's the hole at the end of the depression. It's been raining recently and a lot of the dirt has washed down:

This is my favorite. See the curb just hanging there in the air? When it rains a stream of water comes from under the roadway through that slit beneath the curb down into the hole, so there has got to be some erosion at work under the asphalt. At this point, I don't walk within 10 feet of this thing:

I know we've been concentrating on million-dollar deals in this town, but this is an honest-to-God safety problem. It's the type of situation I used to check out when I was a little kid, and I'm concerned some youngster might fall in. There's a hole under this dirt that could go anywhere. Isn't it time for our city council to refocus on stuff like this? I mean, it has been 2½ months since the city put up the safety equipment. Notice it's even been tagged since then, like it was part of the neighborhood. But the ironic part -- given our recent political shenanigans -- is that this stretch of ground really is a blighted area. Can't we at least declare it a tiny Urban Renewal District and stuff the hole with money?

Comments (29)

Q: What's white and sleeps three?

A: A City of Portland truck.

That one has been around for quite some time and it still has merit.

The sign on the little barricade says "City of Portland Public Works"...
The Leprechauns must be in down in that now not so little hole, just digging away, looking for their pot 'o gold today.
Can we just bury Sam, head first, there?

2 months is way too long for a hole like that to be left agape, for sure, but I bet that when they finally get around to fixing the problem, it isn't going to be a matter of simply filling the hole with gravel. It will probably amount to a more major undertaking involving cutting out and replacing a section of the pavement, which is likely the source of the hold up.

Aah, so this is why Commissioner Leonard ordered Water Bureau Employees to cover up the slogan on their vehicles, "The City That Works," with decals saying "From Forest to Faucet." He doesn't want workers in his bailiwick to be blamed for the inaction of employees of other bureaus.

Nick Fish is officially "Commissioner of Public Works" but I think another city bureau might be responsible, maybe Bureau of Maintenance, which is under Mayor Adams.

When I first saw that headline I thought it read, "The city that stinks."

No this is clearly the entrance to one of our "Shanghi Tunnels". I have it on good authority that the PDC has optioned the hole for $1.5 million and is going to develop it as a tourist attraction.

It's interesting that the barricades were in place long enough to get tagged.

A kid or a dog could fall in? Borrrrrrrring. If a bicyclist fell in, though, Sam would be holding a press conference in front of that thing--shovel in hand- within 10 minutes.

Send Chlapowski out there with a shovel to make his personal contribution to civic happiness.

Get used to it. THere is a whole bunch of infrastructure close-in (especially the East side) that is pushing 100 years old. Of course, CoP has been totally ignoring it for 30+ years so they can build condos and downtown malls. Now it's a question of when not if with these sinkholes.

Throw an old bike in and call Sam up. Tell him some young man in spandex fell in that hole. He'll be there in minutes.

Sam has fixed the problem with poor streets a couple years ago, its the tram - no need for expensive roads.

Poor roads? who cares? we get MLS!!!!!

A kid or a dog could fall in? Borrrrrrrring.

Thanks Dave J. I'll be laughing all day on that one!

I have never understood why we dont get those things cleared up immediately, those can become very very expensive if it starts undermining the strength of the road next to it.

Yet another reason why, in my mind, we need to elect the city council by district rather than at large. This is the kind of thing that gets taken care of pretty quickly when a member of the council (a) lives nearby, and (b) gets yelled at by angry constituents who say they won't vote for him/her if that pothole stays around.

But as it is now the crew running the city listens to the folks in the west hills, and everyone else can go pound sand.

Lets call it subterranean renewal instead of sinkholes. It sounds more sustainable that way. About that light rail inspired maintenance backlog is there room for another fee ? Soccer ball sales maybe ? Or a new slogan ? The city that sinks.

Whoopsee you already got that one...I thought it said stinks too.

Free public toilet for the homeless! $300K, my ass.

This looks amazingly similar to a sinkhole that appeared in my neighborhood - parking strip just started caving in, and got worse and worse over time. The city workers eventually came and repaired the broken sewer pipe that was causing the problem, and backfilled the hole. Seems like a lot of neighborhoods are at a critical age, where the 100 year-old sewer pipes are failing.

Sort of makes me wonder whether the the new condos are putting greater stress on the aging sewer pipes, causing even faster decay and possibly larger failures? We've seen sink holes swallowing up city trucks. How long till a building disappears into the earth??

Looks like the start of a fine bioswale. You know, water seeking it's own level and all...

If we can create an URD, why not a SRD? What's an SRD? Why Subterranean Renewal District, thilly gooth.

Imagine how property values will rise in neighborhoods with new water/sewer pipes safely ensconced beneath freshly paved streets and new sidewalks, smooth as Beaulita's ass.

I recently walked into NW with a friend . . . from Montgomery Park to Powells Books and we paused at every block, heaving deep sighs and saying, "BLIGHTED! Oh, how blighted!"

It's simply heart-wrenching to view the many condo towers filled with tenants who are enjoying tax abatements and those who cannot attract tenants as well as others in the works despite evidence to the contrary that there's no market of overpriced boxes with monthly rental fees on top of the purchase price.

Then we hove into view of a Starbucks, the streetcar, Jamison Park and Little Urbanites and were saved! I tell you, SAVED!

Even though the downtown area is obviously a slum in need of massive investment of tax dollars there are still small comforts. And soon we can wipe such useless presences as Hippo Hardware and Old Wives Tale from the near eastside to make way for . . . MORE CONDOS! More condos are always the answer . . .

try driving down NW 23rd..you feel like your in a FLINTSTONES episode. What a ho-dunk town this is.

From my understanding, the problems on NW 23rd haven't been dealt with because the retailers make too much of a stink about the required road closures. Go by Streetcar!

How long till a building disappears into the earth??

Like maybe a soccer stadium??


Maybe this accounts for the story about the "leaning tower of Portland". I refer to the pathetic "green" John Ross tower. Also known as a giant cigarette lighter.

On second thought they could hire some nerdy consultant to come up with some report attributing these pits to the dreaded boogey man GLOBAL WARMING. That could acheive a greater consensus about additional tax breaks for more of the cherished green condos.

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