Giant sinkhole closes Vancouver street

A large sinkhole collapsed on SE Marine Drive in Vancouver on Sunday afternoon, swallowing a piece of road and forcing crews to close the busy route.

Murray Wightman, manager of street operations for the city, described it as a "major road cave-in" on the south side of the street, which is a commuter artery along the southern edge of the city near Richmond.

Wightman said SE Marine Drive is closed for a full city block between Fraser and Poplar streets. He said the sinkhole is about nine metres wide, 14 metres long and nine metres deep.

"The road has let go. It took out a 12-inch water main and a three-inch gas line. Both water and gas have been shut off and now we're in the process of getting crews in to start working on repairing everything," he said.

Wightman said it's not clear what caused the sinkhole. A water main was found damaged underneath, but crews didn't know whether the broken water main caused the sinkhole, or vice versa.

He acknowledged the closure will be a big inconvenience.

"It is going to be very problematic for the morning commute," he said.

"We've got about 30 feet of asphalt that is still being held up but that's completely undermined down below so it couldn't withstand the weight of anything."

Wightman said the situation could have been much worse.

"There was no property damage … nobody on the road at the time when it happened, no cars passing by, so there was a lot of luck on this one," he said.

"But [there's] still a lot of damage to the road and to the utilities underneath the road."

Wightman said he's hoping the road will be open again by Tuesday.

The sinkhole also caused problems for city buses on Sunday. A TransLink spokesperson said the No. 100 and No. 8 buses have both been rerouted off SE Marine Drive. Transit users are being advised to check the TransLink website before heading out.

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