The person who usually drives, works or walks in the area near the excavation cave-in at 14th and H streets NW in downtown Washington can expect street and building closings and limited telephone service and electricity today, officials said.
Located about 2,000 feet northeast of the White House, the excavation site is in an area of office buildings, small retail stores and restaurants frequented by hundreds of people on weekdays. An average of 15,000 vehicles a day drive on H Street between 14th and 15th streets NW. The United Press International building at 14th and I streets, above the McPherson Square Metro station, is the biggest landmark in the area.
Only the Southern Building at the corner of 15th and H streets was open yesterday with power and phone service. The other buildings between 14th and 15th streets and H and I streets were closed or had problems with electricity and telephones.
At least through Saturday, officials said they will close 14th Street between New York Avenue and K Street, and H Street between New York Avenue and 15th Street. A section of I Street between 13th and 15th streets was reopened yesterday afternoon.
After being told by D.C. fire officials to shut down the Orange and Blue subway lines between Farragut West and Metro Center for three hours Monday night, Metro reopened on schedule yesterday morning and will be running a normal rush-hour schedule today.
Potomac Electric Power Co. officials asked people and businesses in a six-square-block area to curtail power usage because three of the six cables supplying the area are out and another is damaged. As a result, the remaining two cables are overloaded.
"The zipper is barely keeping the pants together here," said Pepco spokeswoman Nancy Moses.
Phone cables were knocked out Monday night when the alley north of the excavation site collapsed. C&P Telephone Co. officials said up to 2,700 lines may have been affected, but could not estimate how many customers are supplied by that cable. However, the problem is confined to the buildings immediately near the collapse, officials said.
Water service was cut off Monday night to take the pressure off the lines that caved in, city officials said.
Metro's tunnel runs parallel to I Street, about 45 feet below the surface and a block north of the cave-in, which is 52 feet deep.
Fire officials said Monday night they worried that vibrations from trains would cause further collapse at the construction site. Metro engineers could not find any evidence of cracks in the subway tunnel, or movement in the ground that would exacerbate leakage problems that usually occur in the Metro tunnels.
Vernon K. Garrett Jr., a Metro construction official at the time the McPherson Square Station was built in the mid-1970s, said that the clay soil was a problem during construction of many of Metro's stations, but there was no special difficulty in building the McPherson Square Station.
The entrance to the McPherson Square Station at the southwest corner of 14th and I streets was closed, but the other entrance at the southwest corner of Vermont Avenue and I Street was open.