BALTIMORE (WJZ) — City officials plan to demolish several of the homes along the 700 block of North Avenue after a sinkhole put their structural integrity at risk.
“We will need to demolish these properties as soon as possible,” Mayor Brandon Scott said at a North Avenue news conference Tuesday afternoon.
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Authorities closed part of North Avenue in East Baltimore on Monday because the sinkhole had eroded much of the sidewalk.
On Tuesday morning, authorities announced that part of North Avenue will remain closed until further notice.
By Tuesday afternoon, they had declared the area unsafe, in part because of a storm that brought heavy rain to the city over the weekend, Scott said.
Officials released their plan to demolish the homes at the press conference.
The closure affects traffic in both directions along a stretch of North Avenue between Greenmount Avenue and Homewood Avenue, according to details released Tuesday by the City of Baltimore Department of Transportation.
The agency said detours are in place, with westbound traffic being rerouted on Homewood Avenue and eastbound traffic being diverted at Greenmount.
The closure stems from a large sinkhole that opened up along a sidewalk in front of homes on the 700 block of North Avenue.
Drivers taking North Avenue are recommended to take alternate routes, such as Preston, Biddle and 25th Street, to avoid getting stuck in traffic, the agency said.
There is no timetable for reopening the road to eastbound and westbound traffic.
City officials reiterated that fact at their Tuesday press conference.
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“It’s North Avenue, isn’t it?” So we know it’s a main thoroughfare,” Scott said. “It’s going to have a big impact on traffic, but more important is the safety of people working on the repair and people traveling.”
The public works crew could be seen carrying out repair work on Tuesday morning at the site, which is being taped until repairs are complete.
A section of E. North Avenue between Homewood and Greenmount Avenues is closed until further notice due to a sinkhole that opened up in the sidewalk.
— Jessica Albert (@JessicaAlbertTV) July 5, 2022
Baltimore Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy said demolition contractors have made progress tearing down homes threatened by the sinkhole in the past 24 hours.
Building inspectors assessed properties along the 700 block of the street from 716 North Avenue. On Tuesday morning, they determined that homes between 720 and 724 should be demolished, Kennedy said.
“Demotion contractors have been working since this morning to demolish these properties,” she said.
The investigation into the cause of the sinkhole is still ongoing, according to Tim Wolfe who heads the Office of Engineering and Construction.
Wolfe’s office assessed the 15-foot century-old drain in the center of the sinkhole situation. Part of that inspection has already been completed, but a full assessment cannot be done until the drain is drained, he said.
“We’ll come back tomorrow morning and do an assessment of the other half so we can figure out what the cause was,” he said.
Kennedy said her department is working to help homeowners who will be impacted by the demolition process.
“We advised all owners to contact their insurance company,” she said.
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Some of those homeowners may be able to file a claim with the city once a full investigation into the sinkhole’s cause is complete, Kennedy said.