Half a year after a broken sewer main caused a section of Cathedral Street in Mount Vernon to collapse, the city announced today that public works crews have fixed the sinkhole and reopened the road.

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works cheerily announced the reopening of Cathedral Street between Madison and Monument streets this morning, just in time for the kickoff of FlowerMart 2017.

Cathedral Street between Madison and Monument has reopened! Thank you for your patience.
Happy Flower Mart!@BmoreCityDOT @MayorPugh50

— BaltimoreDPW (@BaltimoreDPW) May 5, 2017

The intersection had been closed since October, when DPW revealed that a 15-to-20-foot hole had suddenly emerged during drivers’ Tuesday morning commutes on Cathedral Street, about a block west of the Washington Monument.

DPW said in a release this morning that the sinkhole was caused by a broken sewer line located “more than 30 feet beneath the surface that allowed earth to seep into the sewer. The result was an hourglass effect that created a void under the street until it, too, collapsed.”

The same line had already ruptured twice in other spots in 2016. The first case was the disastrous April collapse of the road on W. Centre Street in front of Trinacria Café, while the second, which nearly swallowed up a city inspector sent there to investigate, happened on Mulberry Street on July 4. The area near the since-repaired Centre Street sinkhole was reopened to traffic in October 2016, while the Mulberry Street section reopened in March of this year.

DPW said the newly repaired sewer main has a new 1.2-mile-long lining made from stronger material than the “brick and mortar” used in the sewer. DPW spokesman Jeffrey Raymond explained the relining process to us in an interview late last year.

“If you have a century of sewage going through there, you can only imagine what it does to that material,” he said, detailing how the city’s dated sewer system has eroded beneath our feet.

Water and gas lines at Cathedral and Monument streets were also rebuilt. DPW said the sewer work cost $20 million.

There’s a reason 2016 received the title of “Year of the Sinkhole” in our annual recap in December. Baltimoreans – particularly Mount Vernon dwellers – can only hope 2017 will be different. So far, so good.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...