City hopes to finish emergency water main work by Thanksgiving

Baltimore City is making progress on three different water and sewer repair projects in Hampden, and hopes to finish one that affects merchants on The Avenue in the next two to three weeks, Public Works officials say.

"We just have a lot of work going on in a small area," Joe Hooper, a Public Works project manager, told the Hampden Village Merchants Association on Wednesday.

In August, a water pressure problem sent work crews rushing into some of Hampden's busiest streets — including Falls Road and West 36th Street (The Avenue) — for an emergency water main replacement that Baltimore City officials said was expected to last about a month.

But after three months of work, merchants are a little testy as they wait for the project to end.

"We're hoping to be done by Thanksgiving," Hooper told the merchants association at its monthly meeting at the Hampden Family Center.

"We're hoping (the city is) done by Thanksgiving," said association president Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books on Falls Road. Seventy feet of pipe is expected to be laid under the road next week.

Hooper said the emergency project should be finished in two to three weeks, but warned that it could take longer because crews aren't sure what utilities are under Falls Road and what condition they are in.

Some merchants worried about the project interfering with the annual Hampden Mayor's Christmas Parade on Dec. 8. The parade traditionally runs on Falls Road and The Avenue. Hooper made a note about the parade.

Low water pressure in the area of Buena Vista Avenue and West 41st Street prompted the project, Public Works spokesman Kurt Kocher said in August.

"It was determined we have to do a water main replacement on Falls Road between 36th and 41st streets," he said at the time.

Ray said at the time that he hoped crews would finish the job as quickly as possible.

"I expect them to treat it as an emergency," he said.

It was the second emergency project in as many months that city officials said was attributable to aging infrastructure. In July, the city repaired a 25-foot deep sinkhole on Keswick Road near 37th Street, caused by storm-drain damage and erosion, Kocher said.

Now, the emergency water main project is one of three water or sewer-related projects in Hampden. A scheduled water main replacement project under Keswick Road has been going on for several months and is expected to continue until spring, Hooper said.

Also ongoing is a $14 million project to upgrade aging infrastructure, as mandated under a federal consent decree. It was not immediately known where in Hampden that work is being done and when it would end.

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