Water main repaired, but Highway 20 still shut in Port Townsend
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Crews work to fix the broken water main in front of the Tides Inn on Water Street in Port Townsend on Sunday.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — A broken water main early Sunday closed state Highway 20 between Washington Street and the Port Townsend ferry terminal as crews worked throughout the day to repair the break.

Water service was restored to businesses and homes on the west end of downtown by afternoon, but the road will remain closed until the state Department of Transportation can provide materials.

Detour routes were set up to the ferry terminal. Motorists, especially truck drivers, were advised to plan for traffic slowdowns.

The broken pipe was in front of the Tides Inn at 1807 Water St.

When it was discovered, water was pouring out of the crack, creating a “river running down the road,” according to City Engineer Dave Peterson.

“The pressure from the water just lifted the street,” Peterson said.

The water was shut off between the Ferry Terminal and Kearney Street, and affected the Tides Inn, which offered partial discounts to guests checked in at the time, according to hotel employee Skeeter Martinez.

Crews dug out the area around the pipe and discovered the leak around 10:15 a.m.

After that time, a truck providing suction removed the standing water around the leak, although standing water in the pipes continued to flow.

The Food Co-op at 414 Kearney St. also was flooded, both in the parking lot and the store. But Inventory Manager Deb Shortess said the water was cleaned up in time for the store's 9 a.m. opening.

Motorists heading toward downtown were routed onto Washington Street and Quincy Street.

Public Works Director Ken Clow said that while the operation to fix the pipe is straightforward, the repairs to the road could take several days to complete, as sand supporting it was washed out.

Port Townsend Police officer Ryan Smith said a plan for rerouting traffic was being developed.

Using a single alternating lane may not be possible, he said, as it would require officers to be stationed on either side of the repair to control traffic.

During the repair, Smith and Officer Sherry Erickson brought coffee and water to the crew.

City Water Resource Manager Ian Jablonski said water customers might notice some dirt or slight discoloration of their water, but as pressure was not lost in the transmission lines, no water boil advisory was necessary.

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 06. 2013 6:16PM
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