Western Boulevard at I-440 to be closed until Wednesday due to water main break repairs

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Friday, January 6, 2023
Western Boulevard at I-440 to be closed until Monday
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Western Boulevard is closed in both directions at the I-440 beltline after a water main break Wednesday evening.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A water main break that caused a traffic mess in Raleigh and left some residents and businesses without water on Wednesday afternoon is expected to be fixed by Friday evening, the City of Raleigh said.

The work was originally expected to take until Thursday night. Western Boulevard is closed at the I-440 beltline between Blue Ridge Road and Chaney Road.

Repairs should be completed by 10 p.m. but access for traffic to Western Boulevard won't be available until Wednesday, the city estimated -- pushed back from Monday.

All traffic on Western Blvd is being diverted onto the I-440 beltline in both directions.

Drivers approaching this work area should expect traffic delays and are advised to avoid this area if possible.

Crews had to dig through three feet of asphalt and through a concrete slab to get to the broken water main.

"The downside of concrete slabs is they're very hard to break up, so you have to use specialized equipment," City of Raleigh Environmental Coordinator Ed Buchan said. "Basically a giant jackhammer, and it has to break it up into pieces."

Buchan explained how complicated it can be to locate nearby water valves to stop water from leaking out of the pipe.

"There are over 70,000 valves in our system," Buchan said. "In this particular case, we had two fairly important valves that have been paved over in the past, so we had to go find those and dig those up to really isolate it the way we wanted it to."

Getting this area repaired has been a non-stop effort for Raleigh crews.

"Because this is a DOT road, there's certain specifications that we have to meet in terms of backfill and repaving, so it takes longer than it would let's say a neighborhood road," Buchan said.

At its peak, there were 191 residences and six businesses affected by the water main break Wednesday night.

"Water main breaks happen all the time with any significant utility system," Buchan said. "We have over 2,600 miles of water lines. That's enough to go from Raleigh, all the way to Los Angeles."

Buchan told ABC11 that the specific water line that broke was installed back in the 50s or 60s.

"The original piece of line that actually broke dates back to the 50s early 60s, and it's cast iron, and those tend to break more frequently than other modern materials. So it's a bit of an older line, and we've had some significant swings in temperature...we tend to see more water main breaks during that time," he said.

Any water customers that experience any interruption of services will be notified by Raleigh Water staff via phone call, property visit, and/or door-hanger.