Repairs underway after water main breaks flood freeway, roads

Local

SAN DIEGO — The city is working on emergency repairs at two sites in downtown San Diego after water main breaks caused severe flooding that shut down the freeway.

Interstate 5 north remains closed at state Route 163 following the water main break on the ramp from SR-163 to Fourth Avenue. Caltrans San Diego said some lanes may reopen overnight as crews work through the evening commute to remove water from northbound I-5, north of First Avenue.

During an afternoon briefing in the East Village, where one of the water mains ruptured, Mayor Todd Gloria said it was still unclear if the two incidents were related. He said it took a while to stop the water from flowing because of malfunctioning valves that were not closing properly, along with the amount of water to flush out.

“We have very old pipes,” Gloria said. “I think it’s safe to say the taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth out of this infrastructure. We have to invest and improve them.”

The flooding was first reported Sunday around 7 p.m. by an Uber driver, who told authorities that water burst through his windshield and passenger window. SkyFOX flew above the area 12 hours later, showing a large pool of water covering northbound lanes of the freeway near Hawthorn Street.

A second rupture earlier Sunday at 11th Avenue and A Street in the East Village sent water gushing into the road and forced the closure of 11th Avenue north to I-5/CA-163. According to the City of San Diego, a 76-year-old,16-inch cast iron pipe broke around 3:30 p.m., prompting some businesses to put out sandbags to try to stop water from entering their buildings.

Water was shut off in the area, causing the city to bring in wagons of water for area residents. Crews reopened 11th Avenue and restored water service by 7 p.m. Monday.

The mayor estimated it will cost millions to resolve issues associated with both water main breaks.

“We got a lot of work to do here,” Gloria said. “We’ll continue to do the work necessary to make sure situations like these are rare and quickly resolved.”

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