Heavy downpours that fell across the Baltimore region Thursday afternoon caused no further damage to a massive hole in a downtown intersection, city public works officials said, and with dry weather in the forecast, repair work was set to resume and continue through the weekend.
On Friday, crews resumed efforts to assess and fix infrastructure failures that have paralyzed the intersection of two major traffic arteries since Monday, when a water main broke at Howard and Pratt streets. On Wednesday, part of a Light Rail station collapsed into the area washed out beneath the pavement.
Still, crews had yet to deal with a second underground leak discovered Thursday two blocks to the north. CSX crews noticed water dripping overnight in a rail tunnel that runs beneath Howard Street, alongside the collapsed road, and found another broken main near Howard and Baltimore streets.
Department of Public Works spokesman Jeffrey Raymond said the new leak is not affecting water service or rail tunnel traffic. And he said it was “not necessarily” related to the break in a 12-inch water main that sent water coursing through the rail tunnel, causing a train to derail and flooding areas around M&T Bank Stadium.
“We just want to make sure that we’re getting ahead of any other disruptions," he said. “We’re just able to spot, locate, and fix a leak before it becomes a bigger problem.”
Repairs to that leak were scheduled to begin Saturday morning, public works officials said Friday afternoon on Twitter. Underground utility work ongoing in that same area Friday was tied to a previously scheduled sewer project, Raymond said.
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A widespread 2 inches of rain fell within about an hour Thursday afternoon as storms passed through Central Maryland. Public works crews had installed a bypass system and pumps ahead of that precipitation, fearing that flash flooding could cause further damage. But the heaviest rain did not fall downtown, and Raymond said the systems worked as planned.
“We didn’t get as much as we might have," he said. Elsewhere around the region, vehicles were stranded in floodwaters and many roadways were impassable Thursday night.
While work at Howard and Pratt streets is ongoing, several blocks of those roads remain closed, and all traffic on northbound Interstate 395 is being diverted into Conway Street. With a nine-game Orioles homestand set to begin Friday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, team officials were advising fans on alternate ways to get to the ballpark.
City transportation officials on Friday opened Camden Street between Eutaw and Howard streets, allowing drivers to reach southbound I-395 by going south on Eutaw, turning left on Camden and right on Howard.
Light Rail service is suspended between Camden Station and North Avenue, with a free shuttle service running between the stations, the Maryland Transit Administration said. Public works officials said they don’t expect Light Rail service to resume until after all other repairs to stormwater systems and the roadways are completed.
City officials said there is still no estimate for when the work will be finished, with crews waiting until Thursday’s rain passed before tackling repairs to a 36-inch stormwater drain that was also damaged Monday.
“We’re very well aware that over the next couple of weekends that there are some very high-profile events in Baltimore,” Raymond said, including a Billy Joel concert at Camden Yards on July 26. “We desperately want to provide whatever relief we can to traffic, but safety is going to be of paramount importance. We’re not going to rush into areas where repairs are dangerous or wouldn’t be able to be done fully.”