Sinkhole will close lane of 14th Street NW for rest of week

Updated at 12:58 p.m.

A segment of one lane of 14th Street NW will remain closed for at least four more days while crews work around the clock to repair a four-foot-deep sinkhole that opened up in the road Tuesday.

D.C. Water and Sewer Authority spokesman Emanuel D. Briggs said on Wednesday afternoon that the hole, which is two feet wide and four feet long, was caused by an opening in the sewer. Workers have excavated a four-foot-by-27-foot section of road in order to access the damaged pipe, which they will patch up using granite and low-strength grout.

Briggs said that crews plan to work on the pipe repair 24 hours a day, and the project will last at least through Saturday. Bad weather or other unforeseen difficulties could push it to Sunday.

That means that until next week, commuters will confront some traffic delays on the affected stretch of 14th Street, between Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues. One northbound lane is closed.

Briggs said that the Water and Sewer Authority does not know the specific cause of this opening in the sewer. He said that the sewer system, which relies on pipes which are mostly more than a century old and which is burdened by the District’s growing population, is prone to these problems.

Like other entities around Washington these days, the sinkhole has its own Twitter account, @14thStSinkhole. The account dates back to an earlier, and much larger, sinkhole that opened up at 14th and F streets NW in May 2013.

DDOT offered alerts to drivers who may encounter traffic due to the repair effort, which the sinkhole’s Twitter account retweeted — with an amendment: “We urge motorists to gape in awe.”

Julie Zauzmer is a local news reporter.
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