It may have felt like we were getting swallowed in 2016. In Baltimore, there was physical evidence to prove it.
One of the year’s strangest storylines was the many sinkholes that appeared around the area. The root of the problem was not new, as Baltimore is known for its aging infrastructure that pollutes the harbor and is at least partially responsible for water bill confusion. But the fact that the pavement actually opened up was a much more visible way to see this problem. (Baynard Woods recounted the full sinkhole saga for City Paper earlier this year.)
The epicenter and most damaging was in Mt. Vernon. On April 23, the roadway opened up on Centre St. after a sewer line failed. It was a strange occurrence, but merely the beginning. Another sinkhole appeared on Mulberry St. around celebrations of America on July 4 weekend. This time, a worker fell in while trying inspect the scope of the hole, and was injured. Since these things happen in threes, a third sinkhole appeared on Cathedral St. in October.
The suburbs weren’t spared this trend, as water main breaks seemed to abound in Baltimore County. And these sinkholes were hungry. A school bus got caught in one sinkhole in Cockeysville last winter. In August, the typically quiet, leafy road opened up in Rodgers Forge and swallowed a car.
There were so many that a University of Maryland astronomer was even seeing sinkholes on Pluto by the end of the year.
The fact that so many sinkholes appeared seems fitting when looking at the wider scope of 2016, which is being weighed by plenty of other year-end articles as the potential worst ever. The hard ground under your feet isn’t permanent, and can give way at any time. So let’s make 2017 a year to repair, and begin to sure up the ground so it doesn’t give way again.