Transportation
1:18 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Water Main Break Snarls Downtown Traffic

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) says its expects repairs to be completed by 11 pm Thursday to a water main that burst this morning in downtown Pittsburgh causing traffic problems and icy conditions but streets will remain closed through Friday's morning rush hour. 

PWSA Director of Operations Tom Palmosina said the contractor has completely exposed the split pipe and workers are in the process of installing the new 12-inch ductile iron pipe.  

“We are fortunate that no one is without water."

Fort Pitt Boulevard Inbound from Smithfield Street to Wood Street will remain closed through Friday afternoon.  Wood Street at 1st Avenue will reopen tomorrow, Friday, January 4, 2013 for the morning for inbound traffic and Mon Wharf parking.

Update:  1:26PM

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority says Fort Pitt Boulevard will remain closed through the afternoon rush hour.  A contractor working to repair the ruptured 12-inch water main expects to finish work by 8:00pm Thursday.

PWSA spokesperson Melissa Rubin said the contractor is working to close an 8-10 foot crack in the water line.  Making the work more difficult is the proximity of the break to a 20-inch gas line, which was exposed when excavation began this morning. 

Rubin said it is unclear at this time if the contractor will be able to permanently repair the water line or it the PWSA will have to work on the line again this summer.

No buildings in the area are without water service at this time.

UPDATE: 9:20AM

PennDOT has reopened all westbound lanes on I-376 in the bathtub area of downtown Pittsburgh. The right West Bound lane was closed for a few hours due to ice on the pavement created from a major water main break. 

UPDATE: 8:20AM

Traffic continues to be snarled throughout downtown Pittsburgh even though an early morning water main break has been capped. The break at Wood Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard did damage to the pavement at that intersection and sent water tumbling into the “bathtub” area of the Parkway East.

Wood Street is closed between Fort Pitt Boulevard and the Boulevard of the Allies and Fort Pitt Boulevard is closed between Smithfield Street and Commonwealth Place. 

Police say there was at one time a strong odor of natural gas in the area, which prompted evacuation of a Point Park University building.

The Allegheny County Port Authority has had to reroute several bus lines. 

Officials believe the break was due to the cold conditions.  Temperatures dipped to the single digits overnight.