Comptroller Peter Franchot used his influential perch at the Board of Public Works on Wednesday to press the Maryland Transit Administration over the progress of repairs to Baltimore light rail stops as officials say they’re finalizing plans to reopen roads near a sinkhole that formed earlier this month.
The state-run light rail in Baltimore has halted service to more than a dozen stops because of the combination of a July 10 sinkhole that swallowed up a downtown Light Rail platform and a planned three-week maintenance to stops from Lutherville to North Avenue.
“Everyone is a little bit on edge,” Franchot, a Democrat, told MTA Administrator Kevin B. Quinn, Jr. “This sinkhole is the granddaddy of all potholes up in the city. That is obviously going to continue to impact mass transit. ... Are you confident you’re going to be able to make these repairs within a three-week time period?”
Quinn called the hole in downtown Baltimore a “great, great granddaddy of a sinkhole” and said persistent rain removed dirt and earth under the street, causing the infrastructure failure.
“We can’t safely run trains there," Quinn said. "That’s a city infrastructure project.”
Quinn said the planned maintenance of stops further north in the city was proceeding on schedule. He said the MTA was providing bus service — called a bus bridge — from Lutherville to Camden Yards to make up for the inactive light rail service.
Though he said the scheduled maintenance would be done in August, Quinn wasn’t sure about the stops near Camden Yards.
“I can’t speak to the city’s timeline,” he said. “If that’s not complete, we will still have a bus bridge in place.”
Franchot called resumption of the light rail service “critical to the great city of Baltimore.”
The Department of Public Works wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon that a stormwater bypass has been removed from the sinkhole and that crews are finalizing plans “for limited road openings in the area.”