Washington DC, USA. May 29th, 2013.

DC sinkhole-2013

It started with an email on a neighborhood chain. Residents worried that steel plates covering daily work on a D.C. Water project at 16th and Arkansas were dipping and shaking under heavy traffic.

“When you’re driving over it or biking over it, it’s definitely not solid underneath,” says Keenan Bailey, a Northwest resident.

The fear was that steel plates could mean something more. At the 14th Street sinkhole downtown, steel plates covered a dip in the street for two years. Underneath, the ground was slowly giving way.

“I think it speaks to the age of our infrastructure about how we have to be thinking smart about repairs and making strategic decisions so that we don’t have another 14th Street,” says Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser.

DDOT says they’ve inspected the plates and the site is safe. The quick reaction illustrates DDOT’s new policy: inspection of every steel plate in town.

“Definitely necessary, just the ones behind us, they were in awful condition,” says Jeremy Jackson, who lives in Northwest.

DDOT and D.C. Water continue to seal the 14th Street sinkhole. They hope to have it finished by Friday night. But the work doesn’t stop there.

“Anywhere that there is a plate that is covering up some sort of defect in the roadway or a depression, we’re looking at that along with DDOT,” says John Lisle, D.C. Water spokesperson.


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