Large hole be­neath street is over­due for col­lapse

Rain and roadbed washout likely caused cav­ity to grow well over one me­tre deep


When a small hole in the road is a win­dow into a big­ger hole that is so deep it can swal­low most of a broom han­dle, a col­lapse is only a mat­ter of time.

With all the pre­cip­i­ta­tion we’ve had this sum­mer, the city’s net­work of storm sew­ers has of­ten worked over­time to clear the rain­wa­ter that has drained into them.

The sheer vol­ume of wa­ter dur­ing a long, hard rain cre­ates a lot of pres­sure in the storm sewer in­fra­struc­ture.

Not sur­pris­ingly, weak points in ag­ing pipes some­times frac­ture and al­low wa­ter to seep into the sur­round­ing road bed.

And when it does, the road bed ma­te­rial is washed away, cre­at­ing a hol­lowed-out area be­neath the pave­ment that can buckle from the weight of ve­hi­cles pass­ing over it.

That may be the best ex­pla­na­tion for a hole in the pave­ment at the south­east cor­ner of Broad­view and Withrow Aves., which ap­pears to be a por­tal to a large cav­ity be­neath the street.

Michael Nite­for sent us an email about it, say­ing the hole de­vel­oped ear­lier this sum­mer, but so far, the only thing the city has done about it is spray-paint a red cir­cle around the empty space.

He es­ti­mates the hole “is about four feet deep,” a siz­able sub­ter­ranean cham­ber along the curb of a street as busy as Broad­view Ave., and no doubt sus­cep­ti­ble to a cave-in.

How did Nite­for es­ti­mate the depth of the hol­lowed-out area? He stuck a broom in the hole, which we found to be an ef­fec­tive (and amus­ing) mea­sur­ing stick.

He added that he’s wait­ing for “a cat­a­strophic pave­ment col­lapse,” since the hole has been there for sev­eral months with­out the city do­ing any­thing about it.

We went to Broad­view and Withrow Aves., and peered into the small hole, which re­vealed a much larger and deeper open space. The only rea­son the pave­ment hasn’t buck­led is that Withrow Ave. is one-way west­bound, and north­bound traf­fic on Broad­view Ave. can’t turn right onto it; oth­er­wise ve­hi­cles would drive right over the hole. Sta­tus: Ellen Leesti, a spokesper­son for Toronto Wa­ter, emailed to say they’re work­ing with trans­porta­tion ser­vices to de­ter­mine the cause of the cav­ity and will re­pair it as soon as pos­si­ble. What’s bro­ken in your neigh­bour­hood? Wher­ever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Send an email to jlakey@thes­ Re­port prob­lems and fol­low us on Twit­ter @TOS­tarFixer.

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