Officials say it will take 2 months to fix Old City water main break

Mark Abrams
January 15, 2020 - 5:43 pm
Officials say the break in the eight inch water main in Old City caused damage to other underground electric and telephone lines near it.

Mark Abrams/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Water Department says it will now take up to two months to complete repairs of a water main break at Third and Arch streets in Old City.

The department had initially projected a monthlong closure of the intersection, but utility engineers from PECO, Verizon and the water department gathered earlier in the week to inspect the damage and found it was far greater than originally believed.

“When this water main broke it sort of revealed there was a lot of undermining under the street, and there was also some ducts that were damaged to PECO and Verizon, and they’re out here to make those repairs as well," said water department spokesman John DiGiulio. "So, once the street is broken out, we’ll be able to repair the water main. PECO and the other utilities are going to make the repairs necessary for us to be able to get in there.” 

DiGiulio says a section of an 8-inch main installed in the 1820s broke, and crews anticipate they’ll have to install a 20-foot replacement pipe.

In the meantime, DiGiulio says access to the neighborhood from Second to Fourth streets on Arch Street, and Third Street from Market to Race streets will be restricted to through traffic.

"We're going to try and keep everything open to local traffic but not to through traffic. So if you're not residing on this street or have a delivery to make on this street, obviously we're asking motorists to stay away. Yes, even though the intersection is closed, business is still open. Certainly no reason to avoid walking down the streets, pedestrian access is fully here," he said. 

The news of a possible two-month closure wasn’t going down well for Kimberly, who runs the BoneJour pet store on Third Street, just barely half a block away from the closed intersection.

"We have dog food. People have to come for their dog food. But are we suffering financially, I would say absolutely. This week’s been very tough. We personally deliver citywide so it shouldn’t affect our customers hopefully here at BoneJour pet supply. We’re always going to remain positive, but the numbers are the numbers and we are being affected," she said. 

Jay, who runs Philly Souvenir on Third Street, says the two-month timetable is devastating.

"People come, but when they see this thing, nobody wants to come. Can't park the car or nothing, that's very difficult," he said. 

Jay says he'll stay open for the duration, but he's suffered a losses, which he expects will continue until the intersection is reopened.