More than 40 huge sinkholes open up all over Pennsylvania’s capital

Officials in Pennsylvania’s state capital are dealing with an abysmal issue they can’t afford to fix: 41 massive sinkholes throughout the city as wide as 50 feet and as deep as a typical grave.


But the city is too broke to replace many of the aging pipes and repave its roads as it deals with ongoing budget woes and the looming threat of bankruptcy, according to media reports.

The first of the recent sinkholes perforating Harrisburg was reported on New Year’s Eve when a chasm measuring an estimated 50 feet long and eight feet deep, swallowed a neighborhood block, damaging water and gas pipes and forcing more than a dozen residents to evacuate their homes.


In addition to the rising number of sinkholes, the struggling city has been unable to fix a sewage treatment plant that has been dumping toxic waste into the Susquehanna River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

‘We can’t do anything right now because no one will lend to us,’ William Cluck, chairman of the city agency that oversees the water-treatment facility, told the Journal. Harrisburg, which is in default on its debt, is unable to tap into the municipal-debt market, which cities and states use to finance their infrastructure, including bridges, roads and tunnels.

After city officials rejected a state-sponsored financial recovery plan in July 2011, Harrisburg ‘was briefly transformed into the Greece of Pennsylvania,’ the New York Times wrote in an article published at the time.

The city’s financial woes stem in part from a failed plan to borrow $350 million to upgrade an enormous trash incinerator. That plan fell through in 2010 after the federal government blocked the effort due to the threat of toxic air pollution.

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