Bay Area Traffic

Giant sinkhole frustrates Richmond neighborhood

Friday, April 16, 2010
The Richmond neighborhood cut off by a giant sinkhole is worried the whole area could be affected.    A car was swallowed in a three-story deep sinkhole Thursday evening.

A giant sinkhole that opened up suddenly in a Richmond neighborhood is continuing to cause big problems. Crews are still working to remove the two cars that fell into the 25-feet deep sinkhole. Loaders have not pulled them out for fear of breaking utility lines running through the area.

The sinkhole saga began after 6 p.m. Thursday, preventing many residents from driving to and from their homes. The sinkhole is blocking a road leading to an entire neighborhood of what are, by now, very frustrated people.

It is the continuing case of confusion following the hydrological event Thursday on Via Verdi in Richmond. A sinkhole, 40 by 60 feet across and 25 feet deep, swallowed two parked cars and seemed to digest one of them because it was not even visible.

"My life is a sinkhole, so my car might as well join it, too," said resident Yvonne Still-Nichols.

The fire department blames bad drainage through a subterranean creek for the cause of the collapse, which threatened water and sewer lines. More significantly, it closed access to the neighborhood above, creating a community of marooned commuters with cars and nowhere to drive them.

"No emergency services can come into this area, no mail, no garbage collection," resident Leslie May said.

By noon on Friday, firemen went door-to-door warning residents that they might be cut off until Monday. An hour later, fire chief Michael Banks sounded a bit more optimistic.

"Things change. This is a fluid situation," he said. "We're trying to work here as fast as we can to get everything accomplished."

He hopes for one open lane by Saturday morning, but there are no promises.

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