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Sinkhole Closes John Street Block in Financial District

By Julie Shapiro | January 26, 2012 6:50pm

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The city closed a block of John Street Thursday after a small portion of the street collapsed.

The Department of Transportation blocked off John Street, between Broadway and Nassau Street, after a hole opened up in the roadbed, the Downtown Alliance business improvement district said in an email to residents.

Nelson Guncay, a manager for New Way Shoe Repair on John Street, said he heard a loud noise early Thursday afternoon, and then he spotted workers blocking off the street with caution tape.

"It was like something falling down, something big," said Guncay. "I felt something shake."

The Downtown Alliance email, sent at 3 p.m., said the extent of the damage had not been determined and it was unclear when the street would reopen to vehicles.

It was not immediately clear what caused the sinkhole or exactly when it happened.

The affected block of John Street is sandwiched between construction on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Fulton Street Transit Center to the north and Pace University's new dorm at 180 Broadway to the south. Con Edison has also done recent work on John Street, a spokesman said.

A source familiar with the cave-in said the crack opened up above an old electrical vault beneath John Street. Tishman Construction Corp., the contractor building the Pace University dorm, plans to place a metal plate over the hole while DOT investigates, the source said.

An MTA spokesman said the Fulton Transit Center was not involved in the street collapse. Spokesmen for DOT and 180 Broadway did not immediately comment. Con Edison had no immediate information about the incident.