Water main break in Ellicott City causes Main Street road collapse

A water main break closed a section of Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, Wednesday morning. (Courtesy NBC Washington)
WASHINGTON — A water main break on the historic Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, flooded the road Wednesday morning, causing a massive hole that nearly swallowed a parked car and has left over 75 homes without water.

“We hope to have the water main shut down and repaired by the end of the day,” Steve Gerwin, director of water and wastewater utilities for Howard County, told WTOP. “The roads received substantial damage — we’re hoping by tomorrow evening, the roads will be passable, but we’ll have to assess that.”

Gerwin later told WTOP that the water main was shut down as of 9 a.m., but that the road repairs would likely take until Friday. Earlier, Main Street between Rogers Avenue and Klein Avenue were closed indefinitely. Howard County Police later extended the closure from Rogers Avenue to Hill Street after an unrelated gas leak in the same area.

Officials were called to the 8600 block of Main Street around 3:20 a.m. for a reported water main break, which Gerwin said was “not unusual.”

“We usually have six to eight to 10 broken water mains a month. Unfortunately, this one’s on Main Street, and because of the history here, there’s a lot of attention,” he said.

Ellicott City suffered extensive damages from flooding last July from heavy storms and the Tiber Branch River overflowing. The city was hit hardest about half a mile from the site of the water main break, Gerwin said.


A break in the 12-inch water main caused part of the street underneath an unoccupied parked car to collapse.

Jen Riley, the owner of the car, said she was awakened around 3:30 a.m. by police banging on her door. Once outside, she found water gushing from beneath her car and the pavement starting to collapse, she said.

“I normally park around that bend because the shoulder is so wide, and I’ve had cars clip the side of my car before, so I thought it was a safer place to park. But not last night,” Riley said.

No other cars were on the road at the time, and no one was injured. However, two residences received some flooding, according to Gerwin.

Officials with the Howard County Bureau of Utilities are working on shutting down the water main, and have asked the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company “to secure the power pole and ensure that it’s not affected from the washout,” Gerwin said.

In addition, Gerwin said that while the water main is being repaired, the Howard County Fire Department will bring in tanker trucks to cover in case of a fire.

As for all the water, “this goes back to the Tiber Branch and then into the Patapsco,” he said.

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WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

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