ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – It was a terrifying start to the shift for one St. Louis City Refuse worker Tuesday morning. One second, he was picking up trash on the city’s north side. The next, he was in a sinkhole.
Around 6:45 a.m., an alley off Blair Avenue near Newhouse Avenue collapsed under the wheels of a brand-new trash truck.
“I get cave-ins almost all the time,” Third Ward Alderman Freeman Bosley, Sr. turned to look at the truck, sitting in a hole surrounded by broken concrete slabs. “Not quite this bad. This is one of the worst ones I’ve seen.”
Bosley was not shocked, even after learning the driver escaped unhurt.
“I’m glad he’s safe. But these old alleys up and down here, this stuff is well over a hundred years old,” he explained. “And, anything over a hundred years old deteriorates.”
Bosley also explained the sinkhole was just another symptom of the city’s budget problems.
“All the aldermen get is money from a 3/8-cent sales tax. And, by golly, when you split that 28 ways,” the city has 28 wards. “You can only do one or two alleys.”
Residents were not surprised, either.
“No,” said Tew Jennings, who lived two blocks away. “No, I’m not surprised that this happened in North St. Louis.”
Jennings said only a few alleys are getting major overhauls to accommodate residential parking. But, he said most alleys see almost no traffic.
“So, I’m not surprised the attention isn’t given to the alleys.”
You could see a crack that ran the entire length of the alley and ended where the truck came to rest. Streets director Todd Waeltermann said the alley was so dangerous, he sent away the two 20-ton tow trucks meant to move the trash truck. Instead, he said crews would work on building a ramp to pull the truck out of the hole. Still, residents and the alderman said problems would remain.
“This is one of the oldest areas on the City of St. Louis,” Bosley said. “And, age wears out almost everything.”