The Tookany Valley Chronicles: Anniversary Of Glenside Sinkhole

Two years ago today, the ground rumbled in Glenside.

According to a number of sources, there was loud noise – a “bang” or a “boom” – at about 4:00 AM on Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

Then, several people reported, there was a “wooshing” sound.

A sinkhole was in the process of being formed.

Within moments, portions of one driveway fell into the sinkhole as did much of the front lawns of two properties on the 700 block of Brooke Road in Cheltenham Township.  In addition, a section of the sidewalk and the street in front of these two houses fell into the sinkhole.

A large tree that had also fallen into the sinkhole provided sufficient leverage to keep a pick-up truck above ground.  The vehicle had been parked in the driveway.

“This sinkhole included two throat holes connected below the ground,” stated Mr. Rob MacNamara, Director of Eastern Operations for Aqua Pennsylvania.  The Eastern Operations of Aqua Pennsylvania includes Lower Bucks County and Eastern Montgomery County.

“The sinkhole was approximately 23 to 30 feet deep,” Mr. MacNamara explained.  “We were not able to see the full interior of sinkhole by flashlight because the ground near the top of the sinkhole was not stable.”

Efforts to fix the sinkhole began that morning.

“On the first day, 80 cubic feet of flowable fill of cement slurry put under pressure was used to fill the finite end of the throat holes of the sinkhole,” stated Mr. MacNamara.  “The cement slurry then filled up the rest of the sinkhole.”

Cement slurry put under pressure was used to fill the sinkhole.

“On the second day, 700 tons of 2A modified stone was used to fill the sinkhole,” explained Mr. MacNamara.  “A total of 22 dump trucks were utilized to bring the stone to the site.”

“After the stone was compacted into the sinkhole, a layer of clay was placed on top of stone,” continued Mr. MacNamara.  “Top soil was then placed on top of clay layer.”

Beyond the two houses directly affected by the sinkhole, the impact on the neighborhood was swift.

“Brooke Road was closed to through traffic on Wednesday and Thursday,” explained Mr. MacNamara.  “The road was re-opened on Friday.”

Natural gas service in the immediate neighborhood was suspended.

“PECO neutralized their natural gas service line in the area,” stated Mr. MacNamara.  “There was no leakage in the PECO natural gas service line.”

“Water service to approximately 65 households was suspended shortly after the sinkhole appeared,” explained Mr. MacNamara.  “A 6-inch water main had broken.  A new water line installed, and the existing water line was capped.  Water service was restored to almost all of the homes later that day.”

“A Boil Water Advisory in place for these customers from January 25th to 27th,” explained Ms. Donna Alston, Manager of Communications for Aqua America.  “This advisory means that people should not drink the water without boiling it first.  Bring all water to a rolling boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using; or use bottled water.  You should use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice.”

Brooke Road after the sinkhole was filled and restoration work done.

“Aqua Pennsylvania made arrangements to restore the properties affected by the sinkhole,” stated Mr. MacNamara.

The specific cause of sinkhole remains undetermined, according to Aqua Pennsylvania.

The photographs are provided courtesy of Aqua Pennsylvania, 2017.

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© 2019 Richard McDonough