According to DiGuilio, the water main has been fixed. But the break also disrupted some of PGW’s gas lines and some of SEPTA’s underground infrastructure as well. It’s unclear when these issues will be resolved.
If you’re wondering when Girard Avenue from Frankford to Columbia streets will return to normal, don’t hold your breath. According to Philadelphia Water Department spokesperson John DiGiulio, that stretch of Girard Avenue that was abruptly closed off last Thursday due to a water main break, will stay that way “for upwards of one month” until workers can resolve issues underneath the ground. The main break caused many businesses along that stretch of Girard Avenue to shut down.
“We don’t know how much longer,” he said. “We’re going to see if we can get the one outer lane on the West side open, but that’s to be determined until we see how much work is left out there.”
According to DiGiulio, the water main has been fixed. But the break also disrupted some of PGW’s gas lines and some of SEPTA’s underground infrastructure as well. It’s unclear when these issues will be resolved. Once those issues are corrected, the bulk of the remaining work will be simply repairing the street.
One of the biggest reasons cars aren’t allowed on the road is because of “undermining,” a term used to describe the underground damage resulting from running water, which displaced chunks of dirt and other debris underneath the road. A sinkhole could potentially form if these issues aren’t corrected first.
DiGiulio said this particular water main break caused a loss of 4 million gallons of water.
Despite another recent major water main break in Center City in July, DiGiulio said Philadelphia averages about 235 water main breaks per 1,000 miles of pipe, which, he said, is below the national average.
“We have water main breaks routinely,” he said, noting most of them are not nearly as disruptive as the one on Girard Avenue or the one that was in Center City over the summer. “We do our best to replace with our capital improvement plans to prevent them before they happen. Unfortunately, you can’t always get to them.”
They’re more common during the winter months. Last winter, from mid-December to mid-March, there were almost 700 water main breaks in Philadelphia, according to DiGiulio. Usually, however, the mains are pretty small, unlike the Girard Avenue one which is 20 inches or the Center City one, which is 48 inches.
“The larger the main, the more water that comes about and the more damage underground it can cause,” DiGiulio said.