City finishes repairs to ruptured water main

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January 4, 2013 // UPDATED 12:37 pm - January 10, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
The scene on Hennepin after the water main break Thursday afternoon.
Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie
Test results indicate water in the repaired transmission line is safe to drink

City crews have repaired the water main at Hennepin and 2nd ruptured Thursday by a subcontractor working on a development at Hennepin & Washington.

Water service has now been fully restored to all properties impacted by the water main break, according to city officials. City crews were using temporary lines to provide water to a half dozen buildings near the site of the water main break, but tests have determined water in the repaired water main line is now OK to drink.  

The city's Public Works department is tracking expenses related to the water main break and is expected to have an estimate of the costs associated with the accident sometime next week, said Matt Lindstrom, a Minneapolis spokesman.

The downtown Post Office had 53 vehicles damaged when water flooded a lower-level parking garage, said Pete Nowacki, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.

“All of these vehicles were wet over the hood so I suspect they are all a total loss,” he said.

Besides damage to the cars, the Post Office remains open and on a regular schedule. A contractor has finished pumping out more than a half million gallons of water that flooded the parking ramp.

Most streets near the water main break are also open with the exception of two southbound lanes of Hennepin between 1st Street and Washington, and 2nd Street North from Hennepin to 1st Avenue North, according to the latest update from the city.

Private crews working on an apartment project at Hennepin Avenue and 2nd Street North ruptured a 36-inch water main 2:30 p.m. Thursday, flooding the intersection and leaving many downtown buildings without water. About 14 million gallons of water was released because of the break, according to the city. 

The water main supplies water to a large portion of the city, even as far south as Lake of the Isles. 

Crews were evacuated from the development project known as 222 Hennepin after the incident — a construction site that will be home to a Whole Foods market and new apartment development later this year. 

Ryan Cos. US Inc., the developer working on the 222 Hennepin project, issued the following statement Thursday:  "At approximately 2:30 p.m., while our subcontractor, United Sewer and Water, was doing work near a City of Minneapolis water line, the line ruptured.  We are currently investigating the cause of the accident. The incident occurred on the site of our 222 Hennepin apartment project, located on the corner of Hennepin and Washington Avenues.  We are relieved to report that no one was injured as a result of the accident and the site has been evacuated.  We are actively working with Minneapolis City officials to shut off the line so that repairs can be made. Further questions should bedirected to the City of Minneapolis Public Works department."

Clare Scott, director of corporate marketing for Ryan, said earlier today that crews are back at the 222 Hennepin project site and the incident won't have an impact on the completion date. 

Hennepin County Medical Center spokesperson Christine Hill said the downtown hospital experienced “a slight drop in water pressure” following the water main break, but said things seemed to be back to normal by about 4:20 p.m. 

“It didn’t change business as usual,” Hill said.

Several Metro Transit bus routes were detoured around the flooding, leading to delays in service. Routes 4, 6U, 7 and 61 and express routes 667, 668, 671, 672 and 674 were temporarily altered to avoid the intersection of Hennepin and Washington.

With water shut off to parts of downtown, several restaurants announced via Twitter they would close Thursday evening, including Sea Change, Black Sheep Pizza and Rosa Mexicano. The Guthrie Theater cancelled Thursday's performance of "The Servant of Two Masters." The performance of "A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol" at the New Century Theatre was also cancelled.   

— Nick Halter & Dylan Thomas contributed to this report