4th Street sinkhole expands, residents out of homes for another 30 days

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Big. Bigger. Biggest! A sinkhole on North 4th Street in Harrisburg expanded and for a moment Thursday swallowed a construction backhoe.

Crews now estimate the project will take another month for repairs, which will force residents out of their homes much longer than originally expected.

The Department of Public Works said it could be another 30 days before water, sewer and gas lines are replaced in the section of North 4th Street between McClay and Woodbine streets.

The sinkhole opened up near North 4th and Maclay streets around 7:30 a.m. Monday and caused the evacuation of over 20 families in the neighborhood. That night, an even bigger hole opened up on the same block. The second hole expanded Thursday.

City officials said the expansion is not technically a third hole since it came from the same void as the second.

“It is ridiculously huge!” yelled Wendy Graham, a resident who has been forced out of her home. She said she's concerned that she'll “never go home again.”

Kevin Hagerich with Harrisburg Public Works said the project has now expanded to dig up most of the street and replace the 90-year-old clay pipe that eroded and caused the sinkhole in the first place. He said gas, sewer and water lines will be replaced on North 4th Street from McClay to Woodbine streets.

Because of the winter weather and other unforeseen obstacles, Hagerich has put an estimate of 30 days for repairs. While gas lines were restored Wednesday, the water lines will remain dry through the duration of the project and it's possible that gas will be cut off at times.

The American Red Cross has closed the emergency shelter at the Presbyterian Church on North 4th, but said it will work with residents if they need temporary housing.

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