Pipe Leak Closes 3rd Street Tunnel, Causes ‘Significant Gridlock': Authorities

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If your commute takes you past or through the 3rd Street Tunnel in D.C., you may want to keep a back-up option in mind for Tuesday morning.

DC Water said the tunnel would remain closed Monday night, but did not say whether it would reopen by morning rush hour after 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.” 

The tunnel remains closed between New York Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue. All I-395/SW-SW Freeway ramps to the 3rd Street Tunnel and Capitol Hill remain blocked. The eastbound lanes of New York Avenue near the tunnel remain blocked, New4's news partner WTOP reports. 

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 have 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 are not expected to have water for eight to 10 hours. 

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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