Inspection of underground vaults continues

City officials continue investigating underground vaults in Goshen

Posted on Aug. 14, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — The city of Goshen continues to investigate its underground vaults in an attempt to shore up any hazardous areas downtown.

The vaults came under scrutiny last month when a man fell through a weakened area in the sidewalk outside the Dew Drop Inn, 227 S. Main St.

On further examination, inspectors found that the wood frame between the sidewalk and the open vault had deteriorated and broken.

Since then, inspectors have looked into more than 40 vaults in the downtown area.

The vaults were at one time used to store coal but have generally been empty for years. Without regular inspection, many of the frames, often made of wood or metal, have deteriorated.

According to Tony Cano, building inspector for the city, seven or eight vaults have already been temporarily reinforced, with a handful more waiting for support.

He added that inspectors have about 15 to 20 more vaults to examine.

Cano explained that when inspectors find a vault in need of reinforcement, planks of treated lumber are installed underneath the ceiling. The planks are inserted every few feet, leading Cano to liken the arrangement to a bridge.

According to Cano, the vaults will most likely end up backfilled so that sidewalks are not simply bridging them, but he said that specifics have not yet been worked out.

There remains some question about whose responsibility it will be to pay for the fixes, but the city has taken the responsibility of providing at least temporary support for the frames in order to avoid further incidents.

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