Rebuilt East 26th Street in Charles Village now reopen

Baltimore Messenger
Rain was believed to have exacerbated longtime structural issues with a retaining wall on 26th Street.

The block of East 26th Street in Charles Village that collapsed after heavy rains last spring has reopened, and a formal announcement is set for Thursday, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation said.

The street reopened May 22, said Kathy Dominick, a DOT spokeswoman. "It's open. Construction is complete," she said.

Dominick said DOT director William Johnson and representatives from the Housing Department and the Office of Emergency Management will be on hand for a formal announcement at the site, 26th and St. Paul streets, on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Also on hand will be representatives of CSX, which owns the railroad tracks below the street.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake does not plan to attend, Dominick said. A spokesman for the mayor's office could not be reached for comment.

The block collapsed April 30, 2014, onto the railroad tracks. Residents, some of whom had long complained that the aging street was showing signs of deterioration and soil erosion, were forced to evacuate their colorfully painted row homes after the collapse, as 19 homes were evacuated, and they were not allowed to return for several months. The city provided food, housing and transportation assistance for a time.

Rain was believed to have exacerbated longtime structural issues with a retaining wall on 26th Street. Rain also caused major flooding and extensive damage to other areas of North Baltimore at the time, including Clipper Mill and the Mount Washington Mill shopping center, which are in flood-prone areas.

The city negotiated with CSX over the cost of the 26th Street collapse and repairs, as the wall straddles a city street and a railroad right-of-way, and the railroad agreed to pay half of the costs. The city has since built a new, reinforced concrete wall, "with anchors that go down into bedrock," Johnson said last month.

Latest estimates on the cost were as much as $13 million.

Matthew Bradby, then program manager for the Charles Village Community Benefits District, a special taxing district, got one of the first close-up looks as the landslide started and said that in retrospect, the crumbling sidewalk on the street was an accident waiting to happen.

"I guess the rain finished it," he said at the time.

The Baltimore Sun contributed to this story.

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