Water seeps from underneath the street around South Montgomery and Locksley Way in Starkville from a broken water line Wednesday. Residents in the area remain under a boil water notice. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
February 15, 2018 11:15:18 AM
A water main break caused major disruptions to portions of south Starkville for most of the day Wednesday.
The break happened between noon and 1 p.m., with water pushing up into the roadway through a break in a line under the northbound side of South Montgomery Street between Locksley Way and Lynn Lane, near the entrance to the Sherwood Commons neighborhood.
Starkville Utilities Department crews remained on scene for the rest of the day as they attempted to shut off the water along the portion of the line that broke to make the repair.
It took about eight hours for crews to repair the break, but Starkville Utilities Director Terry Kemp confirmed repair work finished at about 9 p.m.
Kemp said crews ultimately found a failure near a tap in the line that provided water to a fire hydrant caused the break. Kemp said the line broke without warning or any other indication the connection point was failing.
"There was a tap saddle, where we actually made a tap on the line many years ago," Kemp said. "There's a rubber gasket that fits in it to seal it. Over time, it appears that what happened was it shifted down and that gasket deteriorated or blew out.
"We suspect it was caused by the ground shifting over time under a heavily-traveled street," he added.
Starkville Utilities Department placed the areas around the break under a boil water notice. A notice posted to the city's website said the areas include Lincoln Green, Locksley Way and all the way down South Montgomery Street.
Exactly how many residents are affected, Kemp said he didn't yet have that nailed down.
He said areas that lost water pressure from the break are included in the boil water notice. Though pressure has returned since crews completed work on the line, the boil water notice will remain in effect until Starkville Utilities Department can get test results on the water. Kemp said he expects those results by Saturday.
"We will be taking samples today and sending them to Jackson, which is the normal process," Kemp said. "... As soon as we get something we'll let our customers know."
After the line broke, and during the subsequent repair work, the city closed the portion of South Montgomery Street between Locksley Way and Lynn Lane. The portion of South Montgomery is one of the most heavily traveled roads in Starkville, seeing an estimated 12,000 vehicles per day in 2016, according to a Mississippi Department of Transportation traffic volume map.
The road has since reopened, but its closure brought traffic in other areas of Starkville to a crawl as traffic was shunted to irregular parts of the city.
Louisville Street -- a road that normally sees 11,000 vehicles per day, according to MDOT -- saw a particularly heavy traffic load throughout the day. During the heaviest moments, traffic along the road came to a near standstill as rerouted traffic crammed onto the road.
Kemp said his department will get with Starkville's street department over the coming days and weeks to determine the extent of repair work that will be needed around the break site.
"That's going to be ongoing over the next little while," Kemp said. "Once things settle down, we'll go back to them and talk to them about a final repair plan."
Mayor Lynn Spruill said she understood citizens' frustrations with the issues the water line break caused, from a loss in water pressure to the traffic headaches. Even so, she said Starkville's populace was, on the whole, patient as the city worked to resolve the problems.
"The fact that it happened on South Montgomery, which is a major street for us, clearly caused some disruptions," Spruill said. "For us, it's an unexpected disruption, especially at a time that would be rush hour for us on a day when people might have been trying to get home to their partners to go out for dinner."
She also lauded the work of the crews who spent the day at the site working to fix the line break.
"We have a really hardworking crew that has stepped up and worked after hours," she said. "They do what they do, whether it's Valentine's Day or Christmas, a cold night or a hot day. They do the things they need to do to restore our basic services."
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