BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. A large sinkage on North State Road between Route 9A and Pleasantville Road will likely take two months or more to fix, village Manager Philip Zegarelli said.
"This is not just an easy 'Let's just throw in a few yards of concrete'... There's a gas line, water main, sewer main, electrical oil static line and (Department of Transportation) junction boxes for signals all in that one spot. It has to be redesigned to match what the needs are of today," Zegarelli said.
The village manager called the area where the sinkage is a "culvert," meaning that there is an underground opening there, fed by a few water pipes, where water collects before flowing out through a larger pipe.
During Hurricane Irene, the ground around the culvert eroded, causing the road above it to collapse, Zegarelli said.
Since the road where the sinkage occurred is a major east-west linkage in Briarcliff, school bus companies have been advised to reschedule bus times to fit alternate routes, Zegarelli added.
"It's going to take a minimum of two months before the road is open," the village manager said. "There's a DOT component, a utility component, we've got to bring Con Ed in, and a sewage line has to be rerouted there. The strategy is, 'What is the best long-term solution to a very difficult problem?'"
Peggy Minnis, a professor of environmental science and chemistry at Pace University said that sink holes form when the ground becomes saturated with water and the soil begins to act as a fluid medium rather than a solid.
"Soils are fragile, and in the case of roads, very often they have used fill material, and it could be fragile," Minnis said. "There's a whole world underneath the road, and nobody could really tell you unless you dug up that road and did a post mortem why a sink hole formed."
Geologically speaking, the North State Road hole is "sinkage" rather than a "sink hole," Zegarelli said, because water had not gutted out a hole, but rather eroded around an already established hole.
Another hole that formed during Hurricane Irene on River Road was a real sink hole where the water created "a quicksand type of situation," Zegarelli said. The hole measured six feet wide and five feet deep, and was much easier to fix because there are no pipes or control boxes there.
Village officials are currently seeking help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair the North State Road hole.
"This falls right into the category of FEMA. When they come in to help you restore things, they want to see you fix them so it doesn't happen again," Zegarelli said.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused the same part of North State Road to cave in, Zegarelli said.
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