Sinkhole repairs to last through weekend; caused by city's aging infrastructure

Image 1 of 2

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said Wednesday repairs to a sinkhole are expected to last through the weekend.

Crews removed debris, shored up the 9-foot pit, and installed a temporary pipe in the sinkhole on Wednesday.

The 12-by-5 foot gaping hole is located on Mission Street between 2nd Street and New Montgomery. It appeared on Tuesday underneath an SUV. A family of five inside the SUV had to be rescued.

The sinkhole was caused by the rupture of an old sewer line and is a sign of the city’s aging sewer system.

“Thirty percent of our pipes in the city are over 100 years old,” Walsh said.

A permanent pipe is being brought to San Francisco from out of state, according to SFPUC Spokeswoman Jean Walsh.

“We’re waiting on our 36” replacement pipe,” she said. “That should happen on Friday and that’s when we’ll begin the more permanent repair.”

Walsh said the broken pipe in particular was made by hand with brick and mortar 140 years ago and is one of about 4 percent of pipes that date back to before 1880.

Last month, an old sewer pipe burst and caused a sinkhole in the city’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.

The agency said they are already spending billions to upgrade their infrastructure. While they can’t predict when a pipe will burst, they continuously inspect them.  Walsh said the agency uses robotic cameras and field crews to inspect 150 miles of pipeline each year and they replace 15 miles of pipeline each year.

“It’s an ongoing process, you’re never done,” she added. “Just as soon as you’re done with one block there’s another block across town that’s old and needs to be repaired.”

Service is limited to one lane in each direction on Mission Street until repairs are complete.