By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — Joseph Rochon made a startling discovery on Wednesday.
While out out for a morning walk, the Niagara Falls resident came across what appeared to him to be a rather large hole forming below the ground at the intersection of 24th Street and Grand Avenue.
“I never saw it there yesterday,” Rochon said during an interview Wednesday afternoon.
The hole, which started in the median of Grand Avenue, is about three feet in diameter. It appears to continue toward the center of the intersection beneath the road for about 10 feet.
Rochon, who has lived on the street for 40 years, called the Niagara Falls Department of Public Works shortly after he noticed the sinkhole to alert city officials to the potential problem.
DPW workers then called over to the water board after realizing that the hole was likely caused by a leaking pipe, David Kinney, director of the department, said.
Michael Kessler, the director of infrastructure for the Niagara Falls Water Board, said Wednesday afternoon that he believes the hole was caused by a water leak beneath the road, though he will not know for certain until a water board crew digs down to the pipes.
“They’re going to dig in the morning so long as the conditions are OK,” Kessler said.
The hole was likely caused by water eroding the dirt underneath the road which then eventually collapsed and exposed the gaping space.
Heavy rains prevented the water board from working on the hole Wednesday, but crews set up a barricade around the hole that will remain until the necessary work is performed.
Persistent hard thaws and freezes have been causing issues for water infrastructure throughout the region, Kessler said.
“It’s been a pretty rough year for infrastructure in terms of water,” Kessler said.
Rochon said he was concerned that children in the neighborhood might hurt themselves in the hole or that the road above it might collapse.
“It’s something you can’t overlook,” Rochon said. “It’s something that should be taken care of one way or another.”
Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257