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Crews Work To Repair Downtown Water Main Break

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Crews are busy fixing the broken water main that turned parts of downtown Baltimore upside down, but there are still plenty of headaches.

Mike Hellgren has new information on the repairs.

The line that broke along Light Street has previously been classified as high risk, and the time estimate to fix it has not changed. It is still three weeks.

As crews work in the triple digit heat, the new pipe has arrived and is ready to go seven feet under Light Street, replacing the broken main that ruptured Monday, creating chaos.

Traffic is still snarled, and patience is wearing thin.

With no water, some businesses remain shut down.

“Every day, we’ve lost $4,000 or $5,000,” said Niaz Mohammad, assistant manager at 7-Eleven. “A lot of customers.”

It will be three weeks before Light Street reopens between Baltimore and Lombard.

“They need to check these pipes out every year, and make sure they’re all right under the ground,” said Priscilla, who works downtown.

WJZ has learned the broken main had been identified as high-risk before the break, but there were no immediate plans for repair.

“This is not the first time we had to deal with a big water main break, and at the rate we’re going with our aging infrastructure, it won’t be the last,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

DPW now replaces about 5 miles of pipe a year. It’s trying to increase that to 40, but 3,800 miles are in the system, meaning it will take years to fix it all.

There are high-tech methods to search for weak and leaking mains. The director of Public Works hopes using that technology will keep the agency ahead of disaster.

“We probably won’t be able to use it in all the pipes, ” said Alfred Foxx, Public Works director. “But there are some things we can do to give us the advantage,” and avoid the mess that has shut down several of Baltimore’s busiest blocks.

DPW says it’s just not feasible to fix all the risky mains in Baltimore. They say it would cost billions of dollars of money they do not have.

The mains being replaced are from 1889 and 1914. Crews are replacing 700 feet of pipe.

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