Infrastructure throughout the United States is in real trouble. It is a regular occurrence to read about road collapses, bridge failures and sinkholes openings. This massive sinkhole outside of Detroit is quite a hole indeed.
Last week residents were awakened about 6 a.m. by the sounds of crackling and cracking that kept getting louder and louder. People woke up and literally saw the ceiling splitting. Think about that for a moment.
The noise turned out to be the beginnings of a massive sinkhole opening up. It is 60 feet deep and has since spread to nearly the length of a football field prompting the evacuation of residents from 22 homes.
This could have just as easily been your business.
The sinkhole, in the city of Fraser about 15 miles north of downtown Detroit, was caused by a rupture in a massive concrete sewer pipe that runs 45 feet below 15 Mile Road, a major thoroughfare. The pipe, which is 11 feet in diameter, was installed about 1970. At least two other ruptures under the same road have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in repairs including one in 2004. It isn’t clear if the ruptures are related.
Sewer-line and water-main breaks are growing problems around the country. The disaster highlights the massive backlog of infrastructure repair the nation faces. A 2013 report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which is issued every four years, estimates the investment needed by 2020 to modernize the country’s infrastructure, including energy, levees and dams, school and roads and parks and drinking water, at $3.6 trillion. Wastewater disposal was characterized as among the worst systems in the country and in need of $298 billion investment to bring it up to speed. The greatest expense, according to the report: fixing and expanding pipes.