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Sinkhole shuts down portion of West Mulberry Street in Baltimore

Baltimore business owner impacted by two sinkholes
Posted at 4:25 PM, Jul 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-06 05:45:23-04

A sinkhole in downtown Baltimore is causing traffic jams and a headache for local businesses. The road collapse spans the entire width of West Mulberry Street between Greene and Paca streets.

Baltimore Department of Publics Works officials estimate it's 40 by 50 feet wide and about 30 feet deep and that portion of the street will be closed until further notice.

It’s not the first sinkhole that has impacted Vince Fava’s business. Back in April, his Italian deli, Trinacria, on West Centre Street in Mount Vernon was impacted when two lanes of the road sunk in.

Now, the second location of Trinacria is feeling the fallout.

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“I'm a veteran of this. And we have the sinkhole here over on the other Trinacria,” Fava said.

So far, it’s affected parking, but not the lunch rush. Fava is also surprisingly patient for having to deal with a road closure and nearby construction again.

“Hey listen, people in Baltimore have been through this a lot so what're you going to do? Just take your lumps, keep moving, make the best of it, and then go on from there, right? That's all we can do,” Fava said.

Officials said it was an 8-inch water main break that caused the busy section of W. Mulberry Street to collapse on Monday.

“The water had been running for some time and eroded the earth under the road,” said Jeffrey Raymond, chief of communications and community affairs for the City of Baltimore Department of Public Works.

He added that a few days ago they were alerted to an indentation, but were not aware of how serious the problem was.

“This concrete road frequently, when you have broken water mains the water will bubble up, there was no area for the water to bubble up here. So there was some subsiding happening potentially for a longer period of time before we became aware of it,” Raymond said.

Work had also been done recently on a water main in the area, but it was on a different line and not the one that was leaking.

“We actually installed a new 20-inch water main just a few weeks ago. This is part of pro-active water main replacement program. it just so happened that there's an 8-inch water main that was not considered as high a priority as that 20-inch main and that's the one that gave way,” Raymond said.

In addition to the 20- and 8-inch water mains there's also an 80-inch sewer main, Verizon, and BGE utilities they're still assessing.

“So, there's a lot going on underneath this roadway and all that has to be inspected and assessed,” Raymond said.

They estimate the investigation will last several more days but as for when the road will be re-opened, no timeline has been given.

A Department of Public Works employee was also injured Monday evening when he fell into the sinkhole. He was released from the hospital Tuesday and only suffered minor injuries.

As far as how many people are now without utilities, Raymond said only one building was impacted and the residents have all been relocated.

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