Water main break sinks repair crew’s rig

It didn’t swallow it up, but this sinkhole gave the crew a scare, as their truck started sliding down into the pavement. See exclusive photos here …

While the truck wasn’t buried, the crews had to scramble out, for fear it might disappear into a sinkhole. PWB photo

Story and some photos by David F. Ashton
The combination of cold weather, and old water main pipes, has caused water line ruptures across the city.

The event on January 30 gave Portland Water Bureau (PWB) workers a real scare, when they pulled up to see why water was gushing up from the pavement on SE 32nd Avenue, a block south of SE Powell Boulevard.

“As a crewmember backed his vehicle up to begin repair work,” says PWB spokesperson Jennie Day, “the ground caved in, taking the driver’s side of the vehicle with it.”

The driver emerged, unscathed, Day reports. “The vehicle, however, was not so lucky. It took two different tow trucks nearly two hours to pull it out of the sinkhole.”

Although it was damaged from the sinkhole episode, PWB workers kept the truck on-scene after it was pulled out of the street. “It’s got everything we need in it, and we had to get to work,” a crewmember explained.

Crew leaders believe that the integrity of the pavement was compromised when dirt under the street surface was washed away by gushing water from the break of an 8-inch water main. The crew had no way of knowing that the ground beneath the surface had given away.

Another “day at the office” for a Portland Water Bureau crew, as they repair not one, but two breaks in the water main. Yup, that’s the rescued truck in the background!

Residents on SE 32nd between Powell and Francis were without water service while crews repaired the line. Service was restored at 5 pm that afternoon, Day confirms.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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