The San Francisco road where a water main break occurred early Friday morning has reopened as of Saturday morning, but will likely be closed again for more repair work, according to the city's Public Utilities Commission.
The 12-inch main break at Howard and Fourth streets was first reported at 2:41 a.m., a fire dispatcher said. A utilities spokesman said crews responded at 3:15 a.m.
The water main, which dates back to 1895, caused flooding and sent water into the Moscone Center and the unfinished MTA subway line. It also shut down streets and snarled traffic in the bustling area, officials said. The affected water main was pressurized, so crews also struggled with erosion late Friday.
The SoMa intersection was expected to reopen by late afternoon, but it didn't. Crews worked into early Saturday morning to pour concrete and repair the roadway.
Water Main Break Snarls Traffic in SoMa
While the roadway is back open, the SFPUC will be forced to close it briefly during the coming week to do final paving work. However, officials did not confirm which day or for how long the road would be closed
Often, age causes water main breaks, but such incidents are more common in colder months, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission officials said.
"The pipe was originally put in in about 1895 so as most folks around the city know we do have aging infrastructure as old as the city," said Suzanne Gautier with the SFPUC.
In fiscal year 2013, crews replaced 6 miles of pipes, while 9 were replaced in 2014, 12 in 2015, and 15 in 2016, Gautier said. However, 53 water main failures have been reported in the first 6 months of this year, with most occuring in January.
"The PUC has taken an aggressive goal of repairing or replacing about 15 miles of pipe per year although clearly we haven’t caught up with all the vulnerable ones," said Suzanne Gautier with the SFPUC.
Water was shut off to about 200 customers in the area, including a senior home, as crews sought to repair the break. But all water service was restored within hours. The SFPUC said that many water lines cross the neighborhood, which is why service wasn’t impacted for a longer time.