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 Post subject: Ringwood: Sinkhole claims a Ringwood street
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:49 am 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
Sinkhole claims a Ringwood street
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Wednesday, November 8, 2006


RINGWOOD -- Part of a residential street collapsed Tuesday into a sinkhole possibly connected to a closed iron mine, prompting the borough to close the road and seek safe alternate routes for emergency services.

The damaged street, Sheehan Drive, was closed to traffic after a roughly 10-foot section of pavement crumbled and dropped about a foot on Monday afternoon. A drilling machine was doing a soil boring near where sinkholes have appeared in the past two years in the vicinity of a cluster of homes off Peters Mine Road.

Police Chief Bernard Lombardo said he closed the road and was working with borough and Passaic County officials to create a safe way, if an emergency arose, to get fire trucks or ambulances to the four homes on Sheehan Drive.

"Our concern is where it ends -- whether it can be bridged or we need an alternate road," he said of the pattern of sinkholes that has been developing in that area.

Fast facts

Sinkholes in Ringwood are caused by soil and stones collapsing into old iron mine pits and shafts. Some are as small as a rabbit hole. But a recent one in a residential yard is an estimated 15 feet deep and has continued spreading more than 20 feet across.

After another void was found under the opposite side of the street during drilling Tuesday afternoon, Borough Manager Ken Hetrick said installing a temporary bridge that Passaic County offered "seems like the most feasible thing."

The borough had brought in a drilling crew this week to determine the extent of the problem with sinkholes, which began in July 2005 when a crater as big as a swimming pool opened in Roger DeGroat's back yard. The borough put a safety fence around the yard. Then another hole opened between the first hole and the street in the spring.

The collapsed pavement is just a few feet from DeGroat's yard. Investigators determined that the 15-foot-deep-by-20-foot-wide sinkhole that opened in 2005 is the location of a 19th-century mine that was 30 feet deep and 80 feet long.

But an even deeper mine may underlie the area as well. A complex of long-closed iron mines and air shafts stretches under the neighborhood of 48 homes on a ridge just west of Ringwood Manor. The iron mines also extend underneath a section of Ringwood State Park.

Borough officials received a $232,000 state grant to help pay for investigating and filling in the sinkholes in residents' yards and for fencing off other potentially dangerous spots left from the mining operation that closed in the 1950s.

"This was very upsetting," said Vivian Milligan, whose home is near the new sinkhole, which she and her neighbors walk past to get to their parked cars on Peters Mine Road. "Now we're all waiting to find out what happens next."

Among the residents' concerns is that drilling also is to be done near homes on Van Dunk Lane, at the other end of the neighborhood, where sinkholes appeared last summer in the side yard between two homes. An investigation of old mine maps found that a shaft extended under that area.

The borough brought in five trailers to house affected residents while the drilling is done next to those homes. But residents objected that there is a mine under the spot where the trailers are parked. Hetrick said the borough is moving the trailers, after listening to resident Jack Walker, who worked in the mines.

"Mr. Walker told us what was under Sheehan Drive without ever seeing the maps we have, and when we compared what he told us, it was eerie how accurate he was," Hetrick said. "So when he told us there was a shaft where the trailers are, we decided to move them."

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Reprinted Courtesy of the Record,

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