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Boulevard excavation filled with foot-sucking quicksand: Fixer

A water main excavation filled with sand can be a lot more dangerous than it seems.

Everyone has seen a movie where a hapless victim bumbles into a patch of harmless-looking sand, sinks in to his waist and is swallowed, screaming for rescue as his head disappears into the goo.

It makes good TV and can contribute to unsettling nightmares, but it is not as far-fetched as it seems, when the sand is kept muddy by a steady source of moisture.

Paulette Volgyesi emailed us photos of a large excavation in the boulevard in front of her home on Gatehead Rd., which was dug to facilitate repairs to a water main under the street.

The water main “has been repaired several times over the years, but is still creating a problem,” she said, noting that it was most recently dug up early this spring.

“I called the city three times and was told that someone would come out. The first time, they placed a lot of sand in the area, which as you can see, has settled.”

While the sand pit may not seem like much more than an inconvenience, Volgyesi got our attention when she described what happened to someone who made the mistake of trying to cross it.

“We recently had some work done in the interior of our house and one of the workmen sunk up to his knees as he walked over this area.

“We have a lot of children and dogs in the neighbourhood and I am concerned about the physical danger this presents.”

Yikes! Who would have thought quicksand would be lurking on a leafy residential street, waiting to inhale kids and pets?

We rushed to the scene and found a large patch of sand that had sunken at least a foot below the curb, that was damp and spongy when dipped a toe into it.

A asphalt patch in the sidewalk next to it had a water valve in the middle, and a large damp patch surrounding it, an indication of an ongoing water leak.

It looks like the pipe has yet to be fixed, and the water leaking out of it is turning the sand into a foot-sucking bog.

STATUS: Lyne Kyle, who deals with media for Toronto Water, emailed to say they’re looking into it, and will do what is necessary to make it safe until the leak is fixed.

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