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The problem:: A construction site on Clipper Mill Road sits idle for months, detouring drivers.

The backstory:: Anyone misplace a backhoe?

That's what Greg Madison has been wondering as he meanders through Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood, following a detour around construction on Clipper Mill Road while commuting between his Woodberry home and Mount Vernon office.

In July, workers erected a Jersey wall and began some construction. Shortly afterward, however, work stopped and equipment including a backhoe remained idle, according to Madison. The construction has sporadically resumed in recent weeks, he said.

"It seemed like they chewed up the road," Madison said. "There was plenty of equipment out, and then they just stopped."

The detour nearly doubled the amount of time it took to make Madison's daily trip to work, so he tried to get some details from city officials, with little success.

A call by Watchdog, however, sussed out some happy information.

Contractors for Baltimore's Department of Public Works began work to replace a storm drain that collapsed in late June, said DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher.

They soon discovered, however, that the drain was underneath a 48-inch sanitary sewer main. Work halted while officials determined the most cost-effective course of action - over or under the sanitary main.

"We had to do some extra design work to ensure what we did wasn't going to damage the sewer line," he said. "We had to get engineers to really look at this carefully so we didn't cause any more problems."

The department decided to install the storm drain under the sanitary main, and to shore up the larger pipe so it wouldn't collapse on the new one.

City staff has been in touch with neighbors of the $100,000 project to alert them about the delay, Kocher said. It shouldn't be too much longer. Contractors anticipate reopening the road by Nov. 20.

Who can fix this: : Tom Pompa, acting chief of construction management, city Bureau of Water and Wastewater, Department of Public Works, 410-396-1886. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

- Liz F. Kay

Need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by e-mailing or calling 410-332-6735.

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