Huge NW Side sinkhole fixed

August 24, 2011 (CHICAGO)

On Saturday morning, a 2003 Acura driven by Bok Sam Khim was swallowed when part of the roadway near Foster and Elston gave way, creating a 14x14 foot hole that was 12 feet deep. He was able to crawl out with the help of a ladder.

"We got the call at 5 a.m. Saturday morning that there was a car in the street and, again, we wrapped up the repairs on the street and to the sewer main and water main by 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon," Water Commissioner Thomas Powers said.

Commissioner Powers said the hole was the result of a water main washout, where the water main under the intersection broke, and the overflow of water washed away the dirt support. That led to the collapse.

"The water actually breached the sewer, so it undermined the street, so the water was leaking and tearing the subase of the street right into the sewer," Commissioner Powers said.

City crews worked day and night to repair the washout. On Wednesday that part of the road was opened to traffic.

"It was quite the project, but a great team effort. We all jumped in together and put our heads together and came up with a solution and repaired the problem," said Anthony Valicento, water department employee.

The car was destroyed, and Khim was checked out at a hospital.

"My understanding is that he was not injured significantly, so we're very lucky in that respect," Commissioner Powers said.

The city has 4,200 miles of water mains and more than 600 of those miles are more than 100 years old. The city also has 4,400 miles of sewer mains.

"We have an old infrastructure in Chicago. We need to maintain our infrastructure in the city of Chicago, be it roads, bridges, water mains, sewer mains," Commissioner Powers said.

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