3rd Street Tunnel

3rd Street Tunnel Partially Open; Drivers Advised to Avoid Area

A sinkhole was reported Monday in the 3rd Street Tunnel in Washington, D.C., and drivers were advised to avoid the area for a third day

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A stretch of the 3rd Street Tunnel partially reopened Tuesday in Washington, D.C., a day after repairs on a reported sinkhole caused "significant gridlock," authorities said.

Commuters on Wednesday still must deal with closures.

The upper portion of the tunnel remains closed between New York Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue NW, Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination (MATOC) Program said.

Ramps from Southwest/Southeast Freeways and South Capitol Street into the northbound tunnel are open, but northbound traffic is diverted onto 2nd Street/Massachusetts Avenue, MATOC said.

DC Water narrowed its search for the broken section of pipe to about a 10-foot section as of Tuesday evening, but it’s very difficult to reach.

DC Water said crews are working cautiously to protect the structural integrity of the tunnel.

Northbound drivers can take the 3rd Street Tunnel from I-395 and I-695 until the Massachusetts Avenue exit. The 200 block of K Street has reopened, D.C. police say.

The Southbound lanes of the 3rd Street Tunnel can be accessed from Massachusetts Avenue, and th New York Avenue exit and entrance remain closed, DC Water says.

Traffic is restricted on these streets until further notice, according to D.C. police:

  • Southbound 3rd Street Tunnel at 4th and M NW
  • Eastbound from 5th and NY Ave NW
  • Southbound onto 3rd from NY Ave NW
  • Southbound at New Jersey and N St NW
  • Northbound at New Jersey and K St NW

Damage to the southbound lanes may take several days to repair.

Commuters may want to plan an alternate route: Transportation authorities asked drivers to avoid the area Tuesday morning.

A water main break sent water cascading down its walls, damaging the roadway and forcing officials to close it.

In the words of News4’s legendary Pat Collins, the water main break “turned the 3rd Street Tunnel into an ugly, urban version of Luray Caverns.” 

Officials in D.C. closed the Third Street Tunnel after a water main broke and damaged the roadway inside the tunnel. News4’s Pat Collins has more on the efforts to make repairs and to help the people left without water.

Earlier Monday, police warned of "significant gridlock" in the area, and DC Water told drivers to expect backups all day.

They also said water service is back on for nearby residents and businesses.

A potential sinkhole was reported to D.C. police Monday morning in southbound lanes of the tunnel, between New York Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Christopher Geldart said. 

DC Water responded and found a leak in the tunnel, Chief Operating Officer Kishia Powell said. 

Crews are working to determine the source of the leak. There are two 8-inch water mains and one 30-inch water main that run along the ceiling of the tunnel, Powell said. 

Six buildings had no water service or low water pressure, Powell said. A message from the AlertDC system cited two apartment buildings with more than 400 units that were not expected to have water for eight to 10 hours. 

Customers' water has been restored, DC Water said Monday evening.

D.C. Department of Transportation engineers are assessing the situation, Geldart said. 

“We have no major concerns at this point for structural integrity,” he said.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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