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Botched communications manhole leads to 14th Street sinkhole

WASHINGTON – A hole is a hole is a hole, right? Not when it’s under a D.C. street, a block from the White House.

So why did the hole that opened up at 14th and F streets in NW on May 21 take more than a week to fix and cost $5 million?

Apparently, a communications manhole from the 1990s had been installed incorrectly through a stormwater pipe. When the rainwater flowed out of the pipe – gradually eroding what was beneath – pieces of road broke off and then fell through the top of a four and a half foot sewer main.

In order to access the sewer more than 15 feet down, crews had to go past gas lines, fiber optic cable and even trolley tracks. Also complicating repairs was the issue that there were communications vaults down there likely tied to federal buildings and possibly to the White House.

George Hawkins, the General Manager of DC Water explained all about the 14th Street issues on his blog and now drivers can see why it took more than a week to fix and cost so much in repairs.

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