After sinkhole and erosion repairs, light rail service is restored

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Photo by Elvert Barnes, via Flickr

It’s been a long month and a half for light rail passengers, but officials say the entire system is now back online.

The Maryland Transit Administration announced last night that Light RailLink service from Camden Yards to North Avenue would resume at 5 a.m. this morning.

Trains hadn’t been traveling along that stretch since the second week of July, after a 12-inch water main broke inside the Howard Street tunnel. The break led to a partial CSX train derailment and the collapse of an underground vault, which created a sinkhole that swallowed up part of the Convention Center light rail stop later that week.

Trains were thus out of service, with bus bridges in place to carry passengers between stations. Baltimore’s Department of Public Works, the MTA, CSX and others worked for weeks to fix various pipes, conduits and other infrastructure beneath.

“I am gratified that we can announce the full restoration of our downtown Light RailLink service in time for Monday morning commuters,” MTA Administrator Kevin Quinn said in a statement. “We appreciate the patience of our riders as Baltimore City DPW worked to complete the necessary repairs.”

Administrators also shut down the light rail between North Avenue and Lutherville so crews could work on eroded areas of the tracks near the Cold Spring Lane station. That suspension was originally due to last until mid-August, but the MTA finished repairs a week early. The agency also took advantage of the downtime to repair pedestrian walkways at its Falls Road, Mount Washington and Woodberry stops, and replaced some tracks near Woodberry Station.

Work on both stretches effectively meant train service was partially or totally suspended at 14 of the system’s 33 stops.

“With Monday’s reopening, the entire system between Hunt Valley and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is fully operational,” the agency said in its announcement this morning.

Conditions have also improved for drivers downtown six weeks out from the water main break and resulting sinkhole at Pratt and Howard streets. Baltimore’s Department of Transportation last week reopened the southbound lanes of Howard Street and all of Pratt Street, meaning vehicles can once again take Lombard Street to Howard Street to get on southbound I-395.

Ethan McLeod
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