BALTIMORE — Drivers currently navigating road closures in Downtown Baltimore may get a little relief to start next week, as the Department of Public Works said the progress they are making on the Howard Street sinkhole may open some travel lanes by the beginning of next week.
DPW said crews are currently fixing a broken 36-inch storm drain. If workers can get the line fixed by the end of the weekend, they would no longer need above-ground pipes and pumps. The removal of such equipment, “will open access for vehicles on Howard [Street] north of Pratt [Street], and a lane or two on Pratt,” DPW said in a tweet Friday.
A subsequent tweet from DPW showed heavy machinery at the construction site as crews were preparing to dig “deep into the ground to prepare for sewer and water main repairs at Howard and Pratt streets,” the tweet said. If the projected storm drain repairs are accomplished, “some traffic lanes” will reopen by Monday morning.
The road closures and resultant emergency repairs have reached their second week. While the opening of a few lanes will be welcome improvements, the infrastructure work will likely take several more weeks to complete, particularly repairs involving the Light Rail.
Currently, Light Rail service is suspended between the Camden Station and the North Avenue station. A bus bridge is shuttling passengers to the stops in between. The Maryland Transit Administration also recently announced more expansive repair work to the Light Rail, unrelated to the sinkhole downtown, that will effect travelers from July 22 through mid-August.
The sinkhole appeared July 8 following a water main break that ran below Howard Street. The leak was also seen in the CSX train tunnel that runs under the road. A Department of Transportation worker at the site was injured when a conduit he was working on collapsed. Later in the week, the hole appeared to grow as a portion of the Pratt Street/Convention Center Light Rail stop collapsed into the ground.
The repairs have been made more complicated due to the confluence of utility infrastructure in the vicinity as water mains, sewer mains, storm mains, and electrical conduits are all sunk under the ground in the area, as well as the CSX tunnel underneath the road and the Light Rail running along it.