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Sandy soil causing 100 sinkholes in Fruit Belt

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Mike Desmond
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WBFO News

Everyone in Western New York and Southern Ontario knows we get potholes in the streets and, probably this year, more than most years. Buffalo's Fruit Belt streets are also afflicted with sinkholes, and a whole lot of them.

Neighborhood residents are complaining the city Public Works Department is slowly trying to determine what is happening.

Acting Public Works Commissioner Michael Finn said workers have even cleaned out water lines looking for problems. Finn estimated there may be 100 sinkholes in the community because of soil problems.                    

The soil in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Fruit Belt area is sandier than elsewhere, which is why it is more susceptible to sinkhole-type failures becoming evident. Other parts of the city are clay.

Common Council President Darius Pridgen wants greater research in the Fruit Belt to measure the extent of the problem and what might be done.

"This has been a problem for a while in the Fruit Belt and we've really got to address it, sooner rather than later," Pridgen said. "I don't know if your department has a plan like this, a little bit more aggressive, so that we can see what's going on because they are just getting bad."

Finn said research is being considered.

"Throughout this entire process, Public Works has been investigating every individual sinkhole that is reported to us and 100 is perhaps accurate with the entire Fruit Belt," Finn said, "and we are triaging that, as we do with every sinkhole that's reported to us."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.