Another Cold Snap Brings Water Main Concerns For City Crews

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As temperatures plummet again, city crews are hopeful Columbus won't suffer another massive water main break like the one that crippled part of downtown on January 6.

Two weeks ago at the intersection of North 4th St and East Gay St, a 24-inch water pipe burst and sent a fast current of water rushing down the street.  The city says there's really no way to predict whether it could happen again.

City crews spent part of Tuesday repairing about 30 minor water main breaks, but workers are fearful as the arctic air returns.

On January 6, shuttle buses evacuated downtown workers trapped by the rush of water that stranded cars and buckled a section of 4th.  

The Department of Public Utilities says it's impossible to predict when or where the next large water main break could happen, but crews consider the age of the pipes, the history of breaks, and the potential for mayhem.

“Obviously you're talking specifically about that one at 4th and Gay...that's a pretty big consequence right there.  You're talking thousands of people, streets with ice on them, those are the things we look at as we go forward and plan,” said George Zonders, Columbus Department of Public Utilities.

The city is planning a big repair job at the intersection of Morse Road and Cleveland Avenue, where a steady stream of water has flowed across the middle of the intersection for nearly two weeks.

“I don't understand why it's taking so long.  It broke downtown and they fixed it the next day,” said Jacob Wait.

Wait says he walks this way to work almost every day.

“I see a lot of people walking through here trying to get to their bus routes or get to work, that extra water is definitely an extra hazard.”

The city says the break is right in the middle of a heavy traffic multi-lane intersection.  

On Friday, after evening rush hour crews will set up a temporary round about in order to safely make the necessary repairs and hope another leak doesn't spring up somewhere else.