Baltimore's Department of Public Works has set Aug. 20 as the tentative date to reopen a two block stretch of Light Street in downtown Baltimore, an area that has been closed to vehicles for repairs since a 20-inch water main broke on July 16.

Public Works director Alfred H. Foxx on Monday announced that the repair work has passed a key hurdle with completion of the "water infrastructure renewal work," which is the replacement of sections of city water mains and turning the water back on.

The repair work included installation of 570 linear feet of a 20-inch main under Light Street, 378 linear feet of a parallel 10-inch main under Light Street, and 90 linear feet of a 12-inch main under Redwood Street. Only the 20-inch main ruptured in July, but city officials said they wanted to replace the other aging pipes as well while the street was closed to traffic.

Now that the pipes have been replaced, officials say, repaving of Light Street, from Lombard Street to Baltimore Street, will begin this week. Under that schedule, the road is expected to open to vehicular traffic by Aug. 20, they said. In the meantime, sidewalks are open to pedestrians so downtown businesses in the area are accessible.

According to a statement from the public works department, the repaired water main is in full operation and temporary, above ground pipes have been disconnected. New valves and new fire hydrants have also been installed in the repair area.

City officials originally projected that the repair work would take three weeks to complete; the Aug. 20 street reopening date would put the repair period closer to five weeks.

In a prepared statement, Foxx thanked surrounding business owners, residents and commuters "for their patience" during the repair period and said the new pipes reduce the likelihood of water main breaks in the same area for decades. "Although it took more time," he said. "we truly believe a holistic approach was the better solution for the repair."

Ed.gunts@baltsun.com

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