PORTLAND -- The headache that a water main break at Southwest 4th and Burnside is causing will last at least through next week. The 24" century-old pipe shattered overnight Monday, busting up the pavement and flooding the street with nearly foot-deep water and mud.
Repairs are complete and water is flowing again, but the street cannot be re-paved yet because the ground is too saturated and rain is in the forecast. Ancient streetcar tracks are also complicating matters.
"The bursting of this main affected underground soil for 20 to 30 feet. Wet soil undermines the condition of the roadway, and if we were to just pave on top of that, you'd see sinkholes all over the place," said Dylan Rivera with the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
The city is putting more signs in the area to warn drivers of the detours. Burnside is closed eastbound from Broadway to 3rd Avenue, westbound is down to a single lane at times, and 4th Avenue northbound is detoured at Ankeny. TriMet bus lines 12, 19 and 20 are rerouted around the closure.
"We appreciate the public's patience as we continue to assess the extent of the damage, and we thank crews for working as quickly as possible. Businesses remain open, so if you have a favorite restaurant or watering hole, please go for a visit," said City Commissioner Steve Novick.
The basement of the Embassy Suites flooded and lost power. Guests were moved to other rooms, there was no hot water and the bakery had to throw out all its perishable goods. Blue Collar Baking re-opened on Thursday after losing two days of business. Portland Prime also had to trash all their refrigerated food. Dante's suffered water damage as well.
"People were driving through it and over the bump, bottoming out their cars. The fire department showed up, made them stop and marked it all off," said a witness.
The water bureau says about 200 water mains break down each year, but rarely do they cause this much of a mess. The system has 2,500 miles of pipe.
"They just tend to have some sort of point in their life where they fail
and today its this one," said Ty Kovatch with the Portland Water
There was a lot of water flowing into the drains and that eventually worked its way to the Ankeny Pump Station, mixing with sewage and causing an overflow into the Willamette River.