Jan 22, 2008

Water Main Breaks on Chicago’s North Side

Water main break causes "dramatic scene"

An 80-year-old cast-iron water main burst on Chicago's North Side at about 1:30 a.m. Monday night, collapsing part of Montrose Avenue, submerging parked cars and rerouting Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) service, the Chicago Tribune reported. The burst in the 36-in. main occurred near Montrose Avenue and Wolcott Street, forcing police to close a several square-block area, the paper reported. The CTA rerouted two area buses and briefly shut down its Brown Line Montrose station.

"It was a dramatic scene; that's a lot of water to come out of the pipe all at once," said Tom LaPorte, a spokesman for the city's Department of Water Management. "The deepest was about 4 ft of water."

The water was shut off about 7 a.m., and a city crew began a clean-up operation. Police restricted residents from entering an area bordered by Lincoln Avenue to the west, Ravenswood Avenue to the east, Sunnyside Avenue to the north and Berteau Avenue to the south, the Tribune reported.

The water destabilized the foundation of Montrose Avenue, causing a 25-ft-long rupture, and ripping several parking meters and a city light pole from the sidewalk. Why the main ruptured wasn't immediately known, according to the paper.

"It wouldn't be surprising to see that that the weather played a role," LaPorte said. "It went from very cold over the weekend to warmer temperatures that can cause weakness in the pipe."

Several cars had to be towed away while their owners slept, while others' vehicles were partially submerged, according to the paper.
 "We'll be fixing it as fast as we can, but for the moment people are kind of wide-eyed as they walk past," LaPorte said.