John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The 10-foot-deep highway chasm is popping tires in sinkhole heaven now.
It’s hard to love a sinkhole, but the California Highway Patrol made one in Oakland at least somewhat relatable by christening it “Steve.”
“We would like you all to meet Steve the sinkhole,” the agency announced Monday on Facebook. “Steve was born this morning, at about 5:20 AM, on southbound SR-13 just north of Broadway Terrace in Oakland. Steve is approximately 5 feet in diameter and about 10 feet deep.”
The gaping chasm appeared after a recent series of storms, some veined with rarely seen hail, left California drenched and snow-covered. NBC Bay Area reports that as “far as the CHP Oakland knows, it could be the first time a sinkhole has ever been named.” For potholes, though, this is familiar territory: In May, West Des Moines saw a notorious hole dubbed “Grand Canyon,” and a few years ago an English man named one after a local politician who was allegedly not doing enough to improve the roads.
The life of Steve was short and violent. Since developing, it flattened the tires on three vehicles (nobody was hurt). It also grew from a tight, deep cavity into a lane-eating ditch over the course of a day. However, by Tuesday night state workers had filled it over with asphalt, prompting the highway patrol to declare, “It was a fun run, but #SteveTheSinkhole is officially dead. May he never return and to all, drive safe!!!!”
Cheers, Steve—may you deflate a Michelin factory’s worth of tires in sinkhole heaven. Perhaps we’ll even see you mentioned in the next report appraising the Bay Area’s roads as the structurally worst in the nation.