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Miner says state money could help pay for repairs of Syracuse street sinkholes

Tom Magnarelli
A sinkhole on the 1000 block of Oak Street in Syracuse.

The aging infrastructure across upstate New York has created another problem in the city of Syracuse: sinkholes in the streets. The city is expected to pay for the majority of these repairs.

Mayor Stephanie Miner says the 60 sinkholes the city has repaired so far this year are unanticipated consequences of water main breaks and leaks. The amount of money the federal government has kicked in for infrastructure projects has gone down over the years and a long-term infrastructure spending bill has yet to be passed by Congress and the state is not helping much either. Miner remained hopeful that there is money out there that can help.  

“I’m told that there is money specifically designated for transportation in Albany that is not allocated and that can be allocated,” Miner said. “You cannot anticipate all the points and all the different ways it’s going to fail. Unfortunately, until we have an investment from state and federal partners that recognize us, we’re going to be seeing more of this not less of it.”

These sinkholes occur when water leaves a broken sewer line and carries soil with it. Officials say it would cost about $1 million-per-mile for preventative maintenance on the sewers that dates back to the 1800s.

But the city says that is still less expensive than having to dig up the streets and repair everything after the sinkhole is formed.

There are still 28 sinkholes in the city that Miner wants to see repaired before winter. Water main breaks recently closed down one Syracuse high schools this week, and Miner said some downtown businesses have told her they may have to move if more breaks continue.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.