Broken water main snarls traffic in Middlebury; road to reopen Monday evening

MIDDLEBURY — Traffic was snarled in downtown Middlebury today as the southbound lane through Court Square was blocked off shortly before the morning rush hour because an 8-inch water main broke, sending streams of H2O into the sky and destroying the pavement on the south side of the square.
Sometime early Monday morning a cast iron pipe broke, apparently from age, at the edge where the grassy area meets the roadway near the southeast corner of Court Square. An off-duty Road Department employee happened by at about 6:30 a.m., noticed the water cascading down the street between the square and the Painter House and called Middlebury police to get the road closed.
Northbound traffic was allowed to proceed, as usual, counterclockwise around the square in front of the Middlebury Inn. But vehicles headed south were only allowed to rim the west side of the square but could not continue passed the side and front of Painter House. Some cars and trucks headed down Main Street and then took Cross Street back to Court Street and continued on their journeys; others headed south on South Pleasant Street and joined Cross Street.
Neither of these alternate routes could handle the volume of traffic and consequently cars and trucks backed up a long way on North Pleasant Street. Court Street/Court Square/North Pleasant Street is Route 7, which is the major north-south highway in western Vermont.
Authorities did get workers out to direct traffic at the key intersections, which eased the situation some.
In addition to the traffic woes, water was cut off to a portion of Court Street south of Court Square. Fortunately, some of the buildings on the east side of that street are served by a different water main. Several properties on the west side of Court Street, including the Dunkin Donuts, were completely without water after the main was shut off around 7 a.m.
Seven workers from the Middlebury road and water departments have been working to repair the main and the roadway since shortly before 7 a.m. on Monday. They had to dig several feet under the asphalt and concrete to get to the pipe and then cut out the broken segment — which was two-and-a-half to three feet long — and replace it.
They also ground up the roadway on the south side of Court Square, which was completely ruined by the water, which was shooting out under very high pressure.
As of 5 p.m., town workers had got the main replaced and turned the water back on to Court Street customers. Water users were told that if brown water comes out of their taps they should just let it run for awhile; there should be no fear of bacterial contamination.
THIS 8-INCH CAST iron pipe broke early Monday morning and sent water cascading down Court Square.
Independent photo/John S. McCright
At this time, the workers still have to fix some electrical conduit that connects to the pedestrian signal, finish filling in the hole around the pipe, and make the road ready for traffic. It was hoped that work would be done by 9 or 10 p.m.
It was believed that the roads around Court Square should be able to take regular traffic on Tuesday morning. 
SEVEN TOWN EMPLOYEES from the road and water departments worked all day Monday to dig up and replace a broken water main on Court Square.
Independent photo/John S. McCright

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