Construction workers began repairing support structures around an abandoned excavation site on Wisconsin Avenue yesterday, two days after city officials realized it could endanger nearby homes and passing traffic.
The property owners hired the workers after being given 30 days on Friday to fill the hole or submit a proposal to begin construction. The hole, in the 2200 block, is 100 feet long, 100 feet wide and 30 feet deep.
The hazard grew worse over the weekend when storms damaged part of the support structure and increased its risk of collapse, said D.C. Council member Jim Nathanson (D-Ward 3). He inspected the site Sunday and alerted the District's Emergency Command Center. He said an engineer examining the site discovered broken support beams that had shifted the earth toward the hole dangerously.
"There's a serious problem out there," Nathanson said. "Those supports have become a real hazard."
On Monday, Nathanson urged the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to ask First Maryland Savings and Loan, the property's receiver, to reduce the risk of the structure's collapse immediately because "30 days was obviously too long." The wooden and steel support structures were designed to last less than a year, Nathanson said.
Building plans at the site were scrapped more than two years ago when the company financing the project filed for bankruptcy, said Vincent Ford, chief of the consumer department's building inspection division.
Ford and other D.C. building inspectors examined the site yesterday, and said it now poses no immediate danger.
For the past two years, the regulatory affairs department has worked with the owners of the property trying to get a new developer for the site, which is why the hole has not been filled, Ford said.
The District will fill the hole if property owners do not do so in 30 days or if they do not submit a new proposal for construction on the site, Ford said.
Nathanson stressed that the repairs are temporary. "I don't want this to be used as an excuse for that hole still not being filled," he said. "I want it to disappear."