BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Crews worked around the clock to repair a 10-inch water main that ruptured in a busy block of North Charles Street Wednesday near Baltimore’s Penn Station.
They were able to repair the street within 23 hours, getting it open again before the Washington Monument lighting Thursday night.
“The fact that it’s only been 24 hours is absolutely amazing,” said Phil Quick, who owns four restaurants on the block and watched thousands of gallons of water flood the street.
“I’ve been on Charles Street for 32 years, and we’ve seen a lot of things. It looked like the Potomac River. There were rocks coming out of the ground and water rapids running down the street and the sidewalk. I thought it was going to erupt even worse actually, but they got here pretty quick.”
The recent drop in temperatures may have caused the break.
With old pipes underground, temperature shifts can be disastrous. “It’s not unusual for us to have 80-year-old pipes or even older in parts of the city,” said Jeffrey Raymond from the Department of Public Works.
Raymond told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren the city has been replacing 15 miles of pipe every year in its system, prioritizing the oldest.
“At that rate, it will take 100 years to get to all of them,” Raymond said.
In 2012, just three blocks from Wednesday’s break, a 60-inch main dating back to 1920 cracked and closed streets for days. That same year, Light Street closed after a main broke there.
The DPW’s Raymond says the issue of old pipes is not Baltimore’s alone. “The nation has aging infrastructure. We have been looking at ways to really invest and get that infrastructure ready—not only for now—but also for whatever may come down the road.”