PORTLAND, Ore – A broken 100-year-old water main on West Burnside Street caused a giant headache on Tuesday for city officials, commuters and people who had property damaged by the spewing water.
The 24-inch cast iron water main burst early on Tuesday morning, sending water gushing into the area around Burnside and SW 4th Avenue, near the Chinatown gate.
Water bureau officials said the eastbound lanes of Burnside would be closed until at least Wednesday morning. Traffic in the westbound lanes was being guided by a flagger and was still down to just one lane as of Wednesday morning.
Water crews will have to put in 36 feet of new pipe to fix the main.
A few businesses in the area - including some food carts - suffered water damage.
Kassie Olivera left her job at Dante’s early Tuesday morning to find her car with several inches of water inside. It had been parked just a few blocks from where the water main broke.
"Car's not starting, smells like gasoline, water's just coming out of the tailpipe. It's just soaking," Olivera said.
She said the water was dirty and smelly, plus now her car won’t start. Her car insurance won't cover the bill and she wants to city to take responsibility.
“I would hope that would be the case because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Olivera said. “I parked my car and went to work and it was flooded. So I’m hoping that with the paperwork and everything the city won’t fight it.”
We took Olivera’s concerns to the city’s Office of Risk Management. Officials at the office reached out to her so she can file a claim.
The city did agree to pay for Olivera's rental car. Otherwise, she would have had to pay for cab fares to get home from her late-night job.
Water bureau officials have not yet given a specific reason why the pipe broke.
"In a system with 2,500 miles of pipe you have a lot of water being carried a lot of places," Kovatch said. "And 200 times a year we get a main break at various locations, and today we have one at 4th and Burnside, which is always a challenge,” said water bureau spokesman Ty Kovatch.