Lawsuit Says Sinkhole Threatening To Swallow Up St. Elmo Bank

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A federal lawsuit says a sinkhole that has opened up over a city stormwater runoff pipe is threatening to swallow up a St. Elmo bank.

SunTrust, operator of the former American National Bank branch on Tennessee Avenue, filed suit in Chattanooga Federal Court against the city of Chattanooga.

The suit says the city refuses to repair the runoff pipe.

SunTrust officials said a recent engineering inspection found defects in the pipe, including a collapse of one section, crumbling concrete channel walls and exposed rebar.

The estimated cost for repair is over half a million dollars.  

A section close to a bank entrance where the sinkhole first opened up is boarded over and walled off. A sign says, "Danger. Keep Out."

 The suit says the bank wanted to close off the runoff channel, but the city adamantly refuses to do so. The line carries a large amount of effluent from the nearby Chattem chemical plant and from the Bi-Lo shopping center. The runoff ultimately goes into Chattanooga Creek.

The bank says the city refuses to correct the pipe problems and wants the bank to do so. 

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