By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun
4:12 PM EST, December 19, 2012
Nearly five months after a portion of East Monument Street collapsed in a gaping sinkhole, city officials reopened the street Wednesday afternoon, completing one of the city's largest underground utility repairs ever.
"It's been a long and tough journey for the residents and business in this area," said Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx, standing on freshly poured asphalt at a podium at the corner of Patterson Park Avenue, where officials unveiled an "Open for Business" sign on a lamppost.
The repair of the two blocks between Patterson Park and Montford Avenue cost $7 million - not including the cost to BGE and Verizon - said Foxx, who decsribed it as a complicated job that kept getting worse after the street first collapsed about in the middle of the two-block stretch on July 25.
Kurt Kocher, a spokesman for the agency, called it an "entire infrastructure repair," including storm water tunnel, installing bigger water mains, new sewer lines, street and sidewalk work, streetlights, signs and meters.
"It is one of the biggest," the city has done in one project of this kind, Kocher said.
Failure of a 120-year-old storm drain started the mess, opening the street in front of the Sports Express sporting goods store, but storms later not only widened the gap, but also damaged underground water mains.
At first it looked like the city would have to repair a 100-foot stretch, said Rudolph S. Chow, head of the Department of Public Works bureau of water and wastewater, but it ended up as a 423-foot culvert project, along with 200 feet of sewer main and 500 feet of 12-inch water pipe to replace the six-inch main.
While sidewalks were open for most of the time since the sinkhole opened, the street was closed to cars, and businesses suffered huge losses.
"It's just been completely devastating for the businesses, here," said Kristina Williams, a manager with East Monument Main Street, an organization run jointly by the city, local merchants and the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition.
This story has been updated.
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