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Sinkhole blamed on Tulsa's aging infrastructure

A sinkhole that opened up in the middle of a busy roadway near downtown Monday night has Tulsa drivers concerned that it could happen again. (KTUL)

A sinkhole that opened up in the middle of a busy roadway near downtown Monday night has Tulsa drivers concerned that it could happen again.

“I drive on this road almost every day, so it is kind of scary,” said Michelle Eng, who stopped to look at the gaping hole on West Edison, just a few blocks from downtown.

It came as a surprise, but city workers say Tulsa’s aging infrastructure is to blame. The stormwater drain system under the road collapsed from a worn down pipe. Workers say a blockage of leaves led to water creeping underneath and undermining the road until it broke down.

“It is just a very old system, probably 70-years-old. And a pipe over time just gets degraded to the point where it won’t hold its own shape and it just cracked and collapsed,” explained Bryan Young of the City of Tulsa.

Young said normally crews driving down a road might notice a dip or drivers might report it, but this time, there was no warning.

“We have over 1,200 miles of storm sewer in the city of Tulsa, so being able to look at all of those on regular basis is very hard to do. We just haven’t been around to check this area of town yet,” Young said as a driver was able to get out of the sinkhole, but the vehicle was damaged and not in driving condition.

Young says the City of Tulsa’s engineering department is working on areas with older stormwater lines when streets are repaired in major projects.

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