Sinkhole leaves big mess, upset neighbors


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – There are some very upset people in one metro neighborhood. A big sinkhole swallowed up part of their street, the sidewalk and a chunk of a front yard.

Many neighbors say it could have been prevented if the city would have listened to them weeks ago. Instead, there’s a big mess in Rio Rancho.

“This is just incredible to me.” Rose Van Dyke can’t help but stare. “This is big enough for a car to get swallowed up or a kid, kids play here,” Van Dyke said.

Blocked by barriers and a bulldozer is one big sinkhole.

“The water was just gushing out,” Van Dyke said. “It was insane.”

The street in Rio Rancho suffered a water main break Sunday afternoon, turning Western Hills and Idaho Creek literally into a creek.

“This is the worst,” Van Dyke said. “This is the worst that I’ve seen in our neighborhood anyways.”

The street, part of the sidewalk and some landscaping all fell victim to the sinkhole.

Neighbors say they tried warning the city earlier this month.

“For two weeks,” Van Dyke said. “It was just crazy. The water main was just bubbling through, bubbling through.”

The city tells KRQE News 13 it sent a crew to check it out but says it couldn’t pinpoint a cause at that time.

Even though this may be the biggest sinkhole this street has seen, people living here tell News 13 this happens far too often, on a yearly basis.

“We usually get about 3 to 4 ruptures within our block,” Moses Botello said. “It’s inconvenient for sure but it’s really no surprise.”

Botello lives just a few houses away. In the past, he says the repairs are done timely but they only do so much.

“They’re really quick about it, but that’s a good way to describe it, these are band aid fixes,” Botello said.

The City of Rio Rancho approved a water rate hike last year. It’s an increase that will help the city fund repair work on water lines.

“We kind of know we’ll have to pay it in our taxes and now that we know that, let’s go ahead and it get taken care of,” Botello said.

Last year, the city got a little more than $1 million from the legislature to help fix these problem lines.

Under a contract with TLC Plumbing, roughly 550 lines will be replaced this year with new copper ones.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. The city says it needs to replace nearly 15,000 lines in all.

Rio Rancho will get another $1.4 million from the legislature this year for similar work.

As for cleanup and repair work on the latest sinkhole, it’s unclear how long that could take.

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