Sinkhole repairs backlogged for homes in Charlotte

- FOX 46 is getting results for a few elderly homeowners in East Charlotte where a sinkhole has grown into a major safety hazard. What our crew uncovered though was a much larger problem.

For five years a sinkhole on Barrington Drive has been growing, but so has the city’s problem with infrastructure.

“We’re experiencing a bit of a failure of those systems that were put in decades ago and we are working to keep up with that failures,” said Darryl Hammock, Assistant Storm Water Manager with Charlotte Storm Water Services.

Some systems are 100-years-old. The city ranks projects by priority, the highest on the list are those effecting city streets and right of ways which can cause safety hazards. “Secondarily we address pipe systems on private property. Those may be along someone’s side yard or in a backyard and while they are important to the homeowner they’re not as important as a city street caving in,” Hammock said. 

The sinkhole on Barrington Drive is on private property and it’s only feet from the Eddie Nelson Brommell’s homes foundation. “So if there’s a buried pipe system on a private property and it’s very close to the home and it is collapsing that is one of our highest priorities for private homeowners. If the buried pipe is far away from the home say its 50 or 100 feet away from the home it’s a much lower priority because it doesn’t threaten the structure then,” Hammock said. 

Hammock said they investigate requests, than it takes a team of public and private workers to complete a project including surveyors, designers, engineers, utility and heavy earth moving contractors. The department has about 130 full-time staffers but they rely exclusively on private contractors and largely on private engineering consultants to design repairs.

Hammock said, “I think it is troublesome sometimes to see citizens upset about the wait time and want something to happen a lot quicker but we’re comfortable our program does the worst projects first and we’re prioritizing them as best we can and we’re doing as best we can with what we have to work with.”

Storm water services has a $70 million budget but it’s not enough. The department has an extensive backlog of service requests but they said they are working with government officials and the city council to address funding and provisions to ensure they can keep the city’s infrastructure up and running.

As for the homeowners on Barrington Drive, FOX 46 asked if Hammock feels for them and he responded; “You know they certainly can take measures on their own that possibly they can find someone that can help them out with these private issues. The good news is that the in due time will be out to help the situation at no cost to them and it will be repaired at public expense.”

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