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Sinkhole opens up in Cottonwood Heights road

By John Daley | Posted - May 3, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.


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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A sinkhole nearly swallowed a car this morning near an office complex in Cottonwood Heights, exposing a 2-inch natural gas pipeline.

If that car had driven into that hole, it could have been a huge, potentially fatal, mess.

"You know if a car could have gone through it," saidThe problem was caused by a breach in a nearby 30-inch underground water pipe. It drains Hughes Canyon and travels under 3000 East and then into Big Cottonwood Creek. "It eroded all of that dirt and rock and soil around the pipe," said Randy Fitts, the Holladay City Manager.

It the natural gas pipeline had ruptured, it would have been an entirely different scene, likely requiring evacuations of hundreds from nearby businesses.

"The gas lines have the potential of being very dangerous, explosive," said Eric Johnson with the Unified Fire Dept. "And then there's the aftermath of fire, so as far as on our scale, it's up there at the top nine, ten of dangerous."

The sizable sinkhole highlights a larger problem: Failing water lines.

"There's a lot throughout Salt Lake Valley of this corrugated pipe. I guess after time it has a tendency to rust and to lose its strength," Fitts said.

Holladay's city manager said he rushed here from his desk where he was working on the city's budget — a tight budget hammered by recession and the closing of the Cottonwood Mall, with precious little money to patch up old pipes.

It may take a few days to get road all repaired and cleaned. The bigger chronic problem, aging infrastructure, is a stubborn one to fix, requiring time and something hard to come by: More tax dollars.

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