Howard Street Emergency Sinkhole and Water Main Repair

EBA engineers responded to the scene within an hour of receiving a call from the City of Baltimore to request help with an active water leak on Howard Street. The location of the leak near critical transportation infrastructure—Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA) Light RailLink tracks and the CSX tunnel that runs underneath the tracks—made the City’s request urgent. The leak had caused water impoundment at the CSX tunnel envelope, creating hydrostatic pressure that could trigger a tunnel envelope failure and/or bottom blowout.

The subsequent leak identification, design development, permitting, and repair oversight required the collective expertise, ingenuity, flexibility, and dedication of EBA’s team over a period of several months. EBA collaborated with City staff, the contractor, and multiple stakeholders—both night and day—to identify optimal solutions, resolve conflicts, and facilitate safe and rapid completion of the repairs with minimal disruptions to daily activities on the high-traffic roadway. Notable challenges included working around a complex network of underground utilities; rapidly developing repair designs and quickly obtaining the required permits; and creating a custom hand tunnel design to address a large, 16-foot by 22-foot sinkhole caused by the leak.

By applying expertise in pipeline assessment and repair, along with innovative problem solving, EBA’s engineers met each challenge and helped the City avoid both a CSX tunnel failure and the associated devastating and far-reaching consequences.

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