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Charles Village Residents Say They Notified City Officials of Sinking Ground Before Landslide


Residents of E. 26th street in Charles Village say they have been complaining to the city and CSX for years about the retaining wall that collapsed Wednesday afternoon.

The 130 year old retaining wall that runs along railroad tracks owned by CSX collapsed at around 4 p.m., swallowing eight cars, the block long sidewalk and part of the street.

But residents, like Jim and Sharon Zitzer, say they warned city officials for years, including writing the mayor directly. The Zitzer's and other residents say they saw the warning signs including a sinking ground and emailed city officials last week.

"I'm mad; of course I'm mad, because this could have all been avoided," said Sharon. "There are holes that you can see through the tracks below."

According to the Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake an assessment of the structural stability of the street a year earlier found no weaknesses. "We're asking the questions, what transpired between last year and this year that caused that street to collapse," Rawlings-Blake said.

In the meantime, residents on the block have been asked to relocate for the next 40 days.

"I told them, I said you know, that's not going to last till about three months and it'll be washed out.  And it was washed out.  And I said you know, the streets going to cave in," said Jim. "That's what makes me mad, it could have been avoided and luckily no one was hurt, but it could have happened."

City officials say CSX is responsible for the retaining wall that collapsed, but the sidewalk and street is the city's responsibility.

CSX issued a statement on Thursday saying, "CSX is working with local authorities to support a fast and full recovery from yesterday's embankment collapse. At this time, our focus remains on the safety and well-being of our neighbors, especially those who left their homes, first responders and other agencies, as well as our customers."

"Some rerouting is underway where possible, though these efforts will not affect commuter service. There are no passenger services on this line. At this time, we expect customer service to resume as early as this evening. The company will then shift its focus to any backlog of trains."

City officials will continue to monitor the ground for any movement.

Charles Village Residents Say They Notified City Officials of Sinking Ground Before Landslide

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