By Da Lin

MORAGA (KPIX 5) — A new sinkhole has formed in Moraga, believed to be caused by the same storm drain pipe that created an earlier sinkhole in 2016.

It’s located near the corner of Center Street and Rheem Boulevard and there are concerns that this sinkhole, which appears to be growing and expanding, may be harder to fix. The problem comes down to the land being privately-owned.

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The hole does not appear very big on the surface.  But the Moraga Public Works director says it’s deceiving since there’s a bigger hole underneath.

“It’s missing about two-by-five foot section. But below that hole is a little cavern that’s about 10-by-10-by-12 feet. So there’s a hole underneath that,” said Edric Kwan, Moraga Public Works Director.

The sinkhole formed in the parking lot of a gas station and auto repair shop earlier this month. Workers say it’s expanded and gotten bigger over the last two weeks.

Mike Peterson says it’s affected his repair shop business. “Lost part of our parking obviously and two entrances to the lot,” said Peterson, who rents part of the property to conduct his repair shop.

The city is asking the landlord to fix the sinkhole. So far, no timeline or cost for the repair. The landlord has not said whether he’ll pay for it.

Kwan says a large storm drain pipe, eight feet in diameter, most likely caused the sinkhole.

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“That corrugated metal pipe is 70 years old. They only last about 50 years,” said Kwan.

That same pipe cracked and caused a large sinkhole right across the street in 2016, said Kwan.  It swallowed a chunk of the sidewalk, a traffic light and a PG&E junction box.

It cost the city $3 million to fix the sinkhole – so costly it earned a nickname, Sinky McSinkhole. It even has a Facebook page.

“Sinky part two,” said Kwan.

The problem is the city only fixed the portion of the pipe that’s under city-owned land in 2016.  They did not fix the other portion that runs underneath private land.

“Time is really not on our side. If we were to wait for it to degrade further, there’s a possibility for that pipe to collapse, and at that point, the cost can easily triple or quadruple,” said Kwan.

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The City of Moraga asked taxpayers to pay for a new storm drain pipe.  But last year, voters struck down a tax measure that would have paid for it.  So the responsibility of maintaining the pipe continues to fall on private land owners.