Crews work to pull a Metro bus from a sinkhole caused by a water main break on Woodmont Avenue. Credit: Susan Hull

A water main break caused some downtown Bethesda businesses to close Wednesday afternoon while water was shut off so repair work could be completed.

The break occurred on the 7700 block of Woodmont Avenue around 12:30 p.m. Shortly after, a Metro bus was traveling north on Woodmont Avenue when one of its tires became trapped in a small sinkhole that had formed near the break. Bus driver Bryan Henderson said he had made a stop to let passengers off and when he attempted to drive the bus forward, it would not move.

About 10 passengers were evacuated and used rideshare services to get to their destination, Henderson said.

“Everybody’s safe. The bus just can’t move,” he said.

By 1:30 p.m., the Starbucks at the corner of Woodmont and Norfolk avenues had closed and staff at Tastee Diner said they expected to close shortly. Staff at Woodmont Grill and Blacks Bar & Kitchen said they were unaffected.

Water was restored around 5 p.m.



A spokesman for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said it was unclear what caused the break, but water was expected to be shut off for approximately six hours.

The break occurred while construction crews for the future Marriott International Headquarters worked in the area.


In a weekly construction activity update, Marriott said a 1 inch, “inactive and undocumented” water line was “accidentally struck,” causing the water main break.

“This water line was attached to an active 6” water main, and when struck, broke the water main and flooded the surrounding area,” the message said. “The incident, while not due to negligence, caused significant flooding to the area.”

It was not immediately clear how many businesses were impacted.

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