São Paulo Diary: Hole Patrol Extols Control!

I read the news today oh, boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall 

Metrô nega que obra tenha causado buraco em Pinheiros: The Estado de S. Paulo rewrites the press release. “Subway authority denies excavations on the Yellow Line caused hole in Pinheiros.”

We own a modest office suite in an office condo in Pinheiros, so we follow this story closely.

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SÃO PAULO – O buraco que surgiu ontem à noite nas proximidades da Rua Paes Leme, em Pinheiros, zona oeste da cidade, nada tem a ver com as obras da linha 4 do Metrô, segundo a assessoria de imprensa da Companhia do Metropolitano de São Paulo. Técnicos da companhia realizaram uma vistoria na área hoje e concluíram “com 100% de certeza”, conforme a assessoria, que o buraco não foi originado em razão dos trabalhos de construção da futura Estação Pinheiros. A assessoria entendeu ainda que um buraco de um metro de profundidade por 1,5 metro de largura não pode ser chamado “cratera”.

The hole that appeared last evening near Paes Leme Street in Pinheiros, has nothing to do with work on the Metrô’s Line 4, the press office of the São Paulo state Metrô authority said yesterday. Metrô technicians inspected the area today and concluded “with 100% certainty,” according to the press office, that the hole did not originate from contruction work on the future Pinheiros Station.

Why were the engineers themselves not interviewed?

This is a sensitive issue because the Pinheiros Station collapsed into an enormous smoking hole early this year. Later, (1) a failure of two segments of the tunnel was announced, as well as (2) a one-year delay in the delivery of the project. I was never really sure, reading the coverage, whether (1) and (2) were related in any way.

The press office also said that a hole 1.5 meters wide cannot be termed a “crater.”

And how deep was it? 

De acordo com a Companhia de Engenharia de Tráfego (CET), técnicos da Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo (Sabesp) e da Subprefeitura de Pinheiros trabalham no local para verificar a melhor alternativa para resolver o problema. Os técnicos confirmaram que no local onde apareceu o buraco existe uma galeria pluvial e uma rede de esgotos da Sabesp. Até o fim da manhã eles avaliavam se era necessário abrir toda a área para resolver definitivamente o problema ou se era o caso de fazer apenas um conserto parcial para desobstruir a rua. Conforme a CET, vai depender dessa avaliação para que a Rua Eugênio de Medeiros, onde foi aberto o buraco, seja liberada na altura da Rua Paes Leme. Enquanto isso, são mantidos os desvios montados na região do buraco.

According to the state Traffic Engineering Company (CET), technicians from the state Basic Sanitation Company (SABESP) the Subprefecture of Pinheiros are working at the scene to determine the best way to resolve the problem. The technicians confirm that at the site where the hole appeared there is a rain gutter and a Sabesp sewer network. By late morning, they were saying  that it was necessary to open the entire area to resolve the problem once and for all, or, if need be, to perform a partial repair to unblock the street. According to the CET, this judgment will determine whether Medeiros St., where the hole appeared, will be reopened at the intersection with Paes Leme. n the meantime, detours set up around the hole will remain in force. 

I simply cannot abide engineering stories in which no actual engineers are quoted on the record.

What is also missing from this story is whether or not excavations continue in that area. In the last case of bubbling holes I read about, the megatatu — the French excavating equipment known colloquially as the “Big Armadillo” —  had passed under the affected area with hours of the incidents, and the sludge bubbling out of the holes was identified as a lubricating foam used by the Armadillo.

Was that the case here? You would think that if there was a lack of possible proximate cause like that, the Metrô, CET, and SABESP would be eager to make that known.

Does the mayor’s brother, the public works contractor, still run New Projects at the Metrô, by the way?

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