November 11, 2013
A number of Charlottesville commuters had a messy start to the day after a water main break along the Route 250 Bypass created some wet conditions on the road.
"It's probably the largest main break we've had this year by a long shot," said Trip Stakem, an engineer with the city's division of public utilities.
The break happened on the westbound onramp from Park Street to the Route 250 Bypass. It closed around 9 a.m. Monday so crews could work on drainage structures as part of the interchange project.
Shortly before 10 a.m., the line broke.
"The water just came out of the ground, and to be able to isolate the problem, we had to close off several valves in the area," Stakem said.
At first, a number of homes lost water, but crews quickly restored it to all except for four or five houses.
Initially, the work on the ramp was scheduled to last just two days, but Stakem said the break created a delay of a couple hours.
At the height of the incident, construction crews used their equipment to deflect the water from bypass drivers.
"That amount of water could be dangerous, so we like to keep it away from pedestrians and vehicles as much as possible," Stakem said.
Early estimates on the amount of water that flew into the air are between 200,000 and 300,000 gallons, enough water to fill half of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
"They were very fortunate to have a storm drain in place right adjacent to the trench, so all of the water for the most part was able to go in there and go down to the creek," Stakem said.
Stakem said that some Charlottesville residents may notice some discolored water. He suggested running cold water through a faucet until it becomes clear, but there is no need to boil it before use.