Water line breaks powerful enough to buckle Main Street sidewalk
As workers dug into the sidewalk outside the Galleria building on Main Street on Monday, Chris Cinka was not digging what was happening to customer counts at Park City Jewelers Silver Mine, the jewelry store where he is a salesperson.
The equipment was loud, the sidewalk was blocked and people had to tiptoe around the workers or walk to Swede Alley to get into the store.
"It’s kind of slowing down the foot traffic. The whole front door is covered with caution tape," Cinka said Monday afternoon, as the crew assigned to the segment of sidewalk outside his store continued to work.
Two people had been inside the store by 1:30 p.m. on Monday. The number might be ten times that many on a typical Monday this time of year, he said.
The impact on a few businesses on Main Street like the jewelry store comes as City Hall hustles to fix water lines that have broken since last Thursday. The breaks have been blamed on a malfunctioning valve that is supposed to reduce pressure in the lines. The valve is located at the intersection of Woodside Avenue and 2nd Street.
There was a series of breaks last Thursday on sections of streets like Woodside Avenue, Marsac Avenue, Deer Valley Drive and Main Street. Water service was temporarily cut off in some locations. Officials reported more breaks occurred on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Deer Valley Loop.
The break outside the jewelry store — a hole one inch in diameter, according to the Water Department — allowed the water in the line to escape to the surface with great force. The pressure was strong enough that the water buckled the sidewalk by a few inches as it reached the surface. A crack in the sidewalk was also easily visible as it stretched vertically through what appeared to be at least 20 feet of concrete.
Clint McAffee, the City Hall water manager, said the line breaks elsewhere did not cause buckling like what was seen on Main Street. He said other water lines were buried underneath asphalt surfaces. The water escaping upward more easily found cracks in the asphalt than the water beneath the concrete sidewalk did.
McAffee estimated the repairs throughout the streets where lines broke could cost upward of $30,000. The figure, however, does not include the repairs on Deer Valley Loop, where McAffee said approximately 1,100 feet of water lines need to be replaced. The lines at that location are between 40 and 50 years old. The pressure spike coupled with additional pressure changes during the repair doomed the 1,100 feet of lines, he said.
"Believe me, we don’t like it when this happens," McAffee said, commending the workers who fixed the lines for their "pretty high level of service."
City Hall hired two contractors to repair the lines. Each of the contractors assigned more than one crew to the work. McAffee said he hopes the repairs are completed as early as next week, with the exception of work on Deer Valley Loop.
J.W.W. Excavating, led by John Whiteley, is one of the firms that was hired to fix the lines. He said his crews had worked on five breaks in four nights starting on Thursday. He spent Monday redoing the sidewalk outside the Galleria, removing the damaged concrete and putting down a fresh layer. Whiteley said water escaping to the surface from a broken line can easily cause a sidewalk or road to buckle.
"It will lift 12 inches of blacktop right into the air," he said.
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