- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 21, 2005

A water-main break in Columbia Heights yesterday morning closed several streets to traffic and left thousands of residents and several businesses in surrounding neighborhoods without service for hours.

A 36-inch water-transmission line ruptured about 4:15 a.m. at the intersection of 13th Street and Florida Avenue NW, D.C. Water and Sewer Authority officials said.

The break affected areas in Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, and as far away as 13th Street and R Street in Northeast.

Water authority spokeswoman Michele Quander-Collins said service was restored to most customers by late afternoon, with only residents near the break remaining without water.

Crews were still working yesterday afternoon to restore service to those customers, but were hindered by surrounding gas lines in the area, Miss Quander-Collins said. Restoration efforts were also slowed because phone lines were jammed by calls about outages, she said.

Officials had not determined yesterday what caused the break, which affected about 10,000 customers.

Charles Kiely, the authority’s director of water services, said he was concerned that pavement near the break might buckle under the pressure of the water shooting from the pipe.

Mr. Kiely also said the damaged roads near the intersection may be closed for at least a day to make sure they are safe for traffic. He said the water authority would be responsible for the temporary and permanent street repair.

D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Rice said the department will work with the water authority to repair the roads, but he did not know when the area would be reopened to motorists or how long the repairs would take.

“It depends on how long it takes to make sure the area is safe,” he said.

D.C. Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Jo’Ellen Countee said several hospitals had their water service disrupted — including Children’s Hospital, Providence Hospital and Washington Hospital Center.

Incoming emergency room and trauma patients were directed elsewhere during the disruption, but none of the facilities experienced patient-related problems, Miss Countee said.

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