Multi-Agency Response Makes Progress on Downtown Sinkhole

Dept. of Public Works press release header

Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Rudolph S. Chow, P.E., today is extending his gratitude to City residents, commuters, businesses, and visitors for their patience while teams of workers pursue a long-term fix to the sinkhole discovered July 8 on Howard Street at Pratt Street.

“We have multiple City and State agencies, teams of contractors, and several private companies working together to solve a complex problem, while also doing as much as possible to keep daily life moving forward,” said Mr. Chow.

DPW contractor crews mobilized on July 8 to respond to the emergency. On July 9 crews began the process of controlled demolition of the concrete slab over the void. Within days CSX trains were moving safely through the tunnel, and by Sunday, July 14, the contractor had removed 20 truckloads of concrete and debris from the site.  Throughout the week the contractor also installed safety fencing, pedestrian accommodations, sewer and stormwater bypass systems, and helped remove equipment belonging to other agencies.

The contractor is preparing to better stabilize the hole, situated between above-ground light rail tracks and below-ground CSX railroad tracks. This work includes installing a protective shoring system to ensure the safety of the excavation, so crews can repair the underground utilities. Pipes for drinking water, sewer water, and storm water share underground space with conduits for various other utilities. DPW is repairing its three uniquely different systems, while collaborating with other utilities to make repairs and upgrades in the same area. The goal is to make enough progress on the infrastructure work so that normal traffic patterns resume on some lanes of Howard and Pratt streets by the end of next week.

“This is a very difficult job that has to be designed and built in real time, keeping safety at the forefront of all work activities.  We have to make necessary adjustments as the project progresses,” said Mr. Chow. ”All the stakeholders have literally been in the same room every day since the sinkhole was discovered on July 8, and everyone has contributed to the solution.”

Other agencies and companies involved include the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Department of Transportation, Police and Fire departments, the Maryland Transit Administration, Maryland Stadium Authority, BGE, CSX, several firms involved in engineering and construction, and the Orioles. The cost of the construction has not been determined.

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Jennifer Combs
Kurt Kocher
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The Baltimore City Department of Public Works supports the health, environment, and economy of our City and region by cleaning our neighborhoods and waterways and providing its customers with safe drinking water and sustainable energy practices.