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City refills Monument Street sinkhole, sticks to repair forecast

A city road crew worked into Monday refilling a cavernous sinkhole on East Monument Street that collapsed again amid heavy rains Sunday, but the city is sticking to its forecast of completing repairs about two months from now.

A portion of the 2300 block of E. Monument St. between Patterson Park and North Montford avenues was closed to vehicles but open to pedestrians Monday, said Malkia McLeod, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Public Works.

Public works director Alfred H. Foxx ordered the block evacuated Sunday after rain washed tons of fill material into the storm drain under the street, reopening the 30-foot-deep hole that swallowed the block July 25 after heavy rains. Stretching from one side of the street to the other, the crater appeared over a 10-foot-diameter drainage culvert believed to be 120 years old.

McLeod said the city anticipates finishing the work in late October or early November — about when the repairs were originally expected to be completed.

Weather will continue to affect the work schedule, McLeod said, because crew members "can't work in the rain. We're moving as quickly as possible, but we have to keep safety in mind."

Merchants on the street, including people who run a video store, appliance store, grocery, barbershop and cellphone store, are hurting and wondering what the latest setback will mean.

"We're not doing any business at all," said Neville Philpotts, who manages the Diva Fashion women's shoe store. He said he opened the store Monday but closed at about 1 p.m. because he had no phone or Internet service.

He said he would open the store Tuesday morning, but "I'm not sure how long I'm going to stay." Asked whether he thought the store would be able to stay in business through the traffic disruption, he said, "I'm not sure. I'm going to try."

The crater has been shored up with sheets of steel and filled back in as a temporary measure, McLeod said. Steel walls are being installed in the crater at the curb line to protect sidewalks and buildings.

As part of the permanent repair of the culvert, work crews will dig a shaft into the roadway next to the damaged pipe to allow workers to reach the damaged storm drain. The drain is part of a pipe system that discharges into the Patapsco River at the end of Lakewood Avenue.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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