On St. Margaret Drive in Cahokia, cars have to carefully maneuver past two gaping sinkholes just a few feet apart from each other. Residents say the holes fill with ground water and sewage after a heavy rain. The smell wafts into nearby homes.
The holes are the result of a collapsing sewer line, located at least 18 feet underground. Residents say one of the holes opened up about a year ago. The other just broke open a few months ago. Both are getting bigger.
In Cahokia, there are at least 32 major sewer line issues - identified by the village's public works department. The mayor has blamed an aging sewer system and a lack of funding to repair it.
Mayor Frank Bergman tells me FEMA disaster relief funds will be used to repair 13 lines that he says were identified by FEMA as lines damaged in the June 2008 flood.
The areas identified are:
- Kinder Street and Jerome Lane
- 7 Kinder Street
- 19 School Street
- 1151 Jones Street
- 1222 St. Michael Drive
- 1301 St. Raphael Drive
- 406 Arthur Street
- 812 LaSalle Drive
- 422 Levin Drive
- 861 St. Bartholomew Drive
- 1104 St. Bernadette Drive
- 1106 St. Bartholomew Drive
- 7 Cahokia Street
When we met Mayor Bergman this afternoon, he brought along a letter stating that the village is eligible for a community block grant to repair three more lines on St. Henry, St. Gregory, and St. Margaret.
If funding for all of the above comes through and repairs are made, that still leaves at least 16 more major issues - including a large sinkhole at the end of Blue Water Lane. That hole has swallowed parts of two yards and fencing. A resident who lives at the end of the lane says he's been complaining to the village and to state lawmakers about the problem since 2008.
Mayor Bergman says the village will continue to try and find the money to make repairs. In the meantime, public works crews are using band aid fixes like pouring rocks into sinkholes to try and settle lines underground. On Blue Water Lane, the village has set up a pump to bypass the broken section of line.