Sinkhole causes East Village traffic headaches

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SAN DIEGO – A water main break and sinkhole caused a traffic nightmare for commuters into downtown San Diego Wednesday morning.

City crews spent most of the day replacing the old cast iron pipe and clean up at the intersection of 14th and F Streets in the East Village.

Business owner Constance Symstack called 911 after hearing the burst pipe break through the ground.

Sinkhole at F Street“All of the sudden we heard a big burst and I looked out the window and it’s like river out here,” Symstack said. “I looked over to the other side the street and it was erupting.”

As a downtown business owner for 16 years, she’s well aware of San Diego’s infrastructure problems, and wasn’t surprised by the giant sinkhole.

The pipe burst on a heavily traveled commuter street into downtown, East State Route 94.

“This is not a good day when you’re the council men of this area,” said San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria.“Two in South East San Diego late last week, one in Point Loma over the weekend and now this one downtown.”

Gloria was referring to four water main breaks in the last week.

Miles of San Diego’s old cast iron water mains are over 75 years old and are in the process of being replaced, a daunting task by any measure but this particular pipe was over a 100-years-old.

On average, the city replaces about 25 miles of old pipe a year and hope to have all of the old pipes replaced by 2017. The plan calls for miles of PVC blue pipe to replace the old faulty pipe across the city, but city officials admit they can’t keep up with the demand.

To address the issue Councilman Gloria has created San Diego’s first infrastructure committee, the hope is to find creative ways to stretch resources by doing more with less.  He also wants to take the issue to the voters in a bond measure in the future.

“When things like this happens, it really undermines our ability to bring investment to SD, so I think it’s worth going bigger.”