Sinkhole keeps Pender closed for two weeks

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

TRAFFIC I ‘We’ll see how that goes,’ city maintenance superintendent says of repair

Chad Skelton

City officials expect it will take two weeks before the sinkhole on Pender at Bute is fixed. Photograph by : Mark van Manen, Vancouver Sun

It could be up to two weeks before a section of Pender Street that collapsed Boxing Day is repaired and reopened to traffic, a city official said Tuesday.

“We’re saying two weeks and we’ll see how that goes,” said Murray Wightman, maintenance superintendent for the city.

A 20-centimetre water main burst at the corner of Pender and Bute streets about 10 a.m. Monday, sending thousands of litres of water gushing into an adjacent construction site being excavated for a highrise condominium.

Giant slabs of concrete, pieces of sidewalk, utility wires and part of the road also crumbled into the site.

Pender was blocked off between Bute and Jervis Tuesday, with traffic diverted to Hastings.

City engineer Tom Timm said it could stay that way for a while.

“This is likely to impact on traffic through into the new year. This won’t be fixed in the short term.”

Geotechnical engineers for both the city and the construction company were onsite Tuesday trying to determine what caused the collapse.

But Timm said the city doesn’t believe the water main is to blame.

He said reports from the scene suggest the shoring system of concrete and steel collapsed before the water main broke.

“It’s some kind of a failure of the shoring system . . . either a design issue or the way it was put in place,” he said.

The city has issued a stop-work notice on the project, preventing the company from continuing to excavate the site.

Matcon Excavation and Shoring is the company that was working on the site.

Axel Meinardus, a superintendent with Matcon, refused to answer questions Tuesday about the shoring system.

“There’s a pending investigation. Nobody knows anything at this point,” he said. “We’re not able to talk at this point.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2005

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