By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A water main shatters in the heart of Baltimore, pouring thousands of gallons onto North Charles Street.

Mike Hellgren has the latest on the break that’s crippling downtown.

The Department of Public Works says they have got the water totally shut off. Streets are now beginning to dry, but crews still have a long ways to go. They’ll need to dig more than 17-feet below the pavement to even reach the pipe.

The water started pouring out of a broken main at 20th and Charles early Wednesday. It took nearly two days to shut off the old valves that control it.

“They just let it run all night long. They didn’t come back until early this morning,” said Rodney Quill.

“It was very terrible,” said another resident.

DPW says they’ve still got to drain the area and get 17-feet underground to fix the main.

“North Avenue is impacted. You can’t go east and west across North Avenue. Charles Street is closed,” said Kurt Kocher, DPW.

There is high-tech equipment that can be used to find weak and leaky mains, and there’s a major effort to replace the worst of them.

The water was so powerful it sliced Charles Street to shreds. It’s also been a pain for business owners.

Hellgren: “Just a mess still?”

Grace Park, Metro Cleaners: “Just still messed up, yeah.”

In addition to the water, you’ve still got all the dirt on the ground in front of the Charles Theater. But it wasn’t enough to disrupt a visit from famed director Oliver Stone.

“It’s kind of unsightly to have to bring a special guest to look at that, but it’s not as bad as it could be. The water could be all over the place,” said Ann Zelenka.

As day turns to night again, the complex work continues and could take weeks to complete.

“It’s a little bit of a mess, but you know, water mains do that. Baltimore’s an old city and probably the water mains are made out of ceramic or wood,” said one resident.

Charles Street is now open again all the way up to North Avenue. It’s only closed for a two-block stretch from North Avenue to 21st Street. Crews have started lifting asphalt up and out of the hole. There will be more serious digging Friday.

Those evacuated Wednesday have been returned to their homes, and MTA buses are still being detoured around the break.


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