Madera leaders approve emergency measure to address sinkhole problem

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The original sinkhole opened up on Schnoor Avenue and while repairing it engineers say they found an even bigger stretch of road that may be in jeopardy. (KFSN)

A large sinkhole in Madera that opened up in April prompted an investigation that led engineers to an even bigger problem.

City leaders took emergency action Wednesday to tackle the dangerous discovery.

The original sinkhole opened up on Schnoor Avenue and while repairing it engineers say they found an even bigger stretch of road that may be in jeopardy.

First, there was a curiosity in the neighborhood, then disbelief.

"Saw a little crack, wondering what it was," resident Joaquin Robles said.

"Oh my God, yes," neighbor Louise Brunolli exclaimed "It was a complete shock.

And it's finally turning to relief after nobody was hurt after ground caved in on the busy road.

"What we had several weeks ago was a sewer line failure," city administrator David Tooley said.

The failure caused by aging infrastructure.

In the process of stitching up the roadway, engineers also took a look at surrounding concrete sewer pipes to check for vulnerabilities and their findings were alarming.

"We've identified an additional stretch on this line that we know needs to be addressed," Tooley explained. "That is the source of the discussion this evening."

The city called for a special meeting to discuss emergency repairs.

Schnoor Avenue still the problem area.

Engineers say a stretch of pipeline running 1,600 feet is extremely thin and weak and a slip line made with PVC would be placed inside the main line for support.

"his is a very busy street and the last thing you want is for something like this to happen," Robles said.

The proactive measure sounds great, but comes at a hefty price of $900,000, but it's money neighbors say is a trade-off for peace of mind.

"There might be a sinkhole here so I don't know if we want to go that way anymore," Brunolli said.

The city council voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve the repairs. They're moving fast so another hole doesn't open up.

"It's a warning," Tooley said. "And the warning is to do your analysis, do your due diligence and address the issue proactively instead of waiting for a failure to take place."

Construction should start in a few weeks, and engineers say the project should be complete in about a month.
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