• Rainier Beach neighbors fear sinkhole will grow


    SEATTLE - A sinkhole in the middle of the 8600 block of Wabash Avenue South, surrounded by traffic cones, does not look impressive from the surface, but it is deep. 

    “I could put an 8-foot 2-by-4 all the way to the bottom of it,” said resident Neale Frothingham, who called 911 when he saw it up close. 

    “I was afraid the next car that came down here would go through the street." 

    Seattle police closed the street until a crew from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) arrived to barricade the area to traffic. Five days later, the hole still had not been repaired. 

    SPU crews alerted a neighbor that the hole was likely his responsibility because of a faulty side sewer, a line running between a house and the sewer main.

    The homeowner hired a contractor, who claims that the side sewer is working properly. 

    “Regardless of whether this a problem with the city sewer or one of the private sewer lines coming in from the side, the city has a responsibility to address the matter in the interim and protect the public,'' Frothingham said. 

    Sewer undermining can cause huge damage when unchecked. In 1957, a ruptured sewer line caused a sinkhole 60 feet deep and 200 feet long to open up in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood.  

    In the Rainier Valley case, neighbors say waiting five days for the city to fill a growing hole is too long. “We can't be out here with a public street that could collapse at any moment," Frothingham said.

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