Water main break shuts down part of McKelvey

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI) - Repair workers blamed our back and forth weather for a mammoth water main break on McKelvey Road just north of Dorsett in Maryland Heights Tuesday morning.

The resulting hole in the pavement looked was nearly the size of a small in-ground pool.

The main was repaired by Tuesday night.

McKelvey Road remained closed.

70 degree temperatures 10 days ago followed by single digits now can be tough on water mains; road repair, too.

“When I pulled up this morning the whole street was just under water.  It looked like a river coming down McKelvey road.  There was just water everywhere,” said John Huff, manager of the Imo’s Pizza next to the repair site.

“Looked like a bomb exploded, right in the middle (of the road),” said Victoria Lenz, who shops in the area.

All of McKelvey just north of Dorsett had to be shut down.

Close to a half-block section that handles about 17,000 vehicles –a-day was crumbling under the water bubbling up from under the pavement.

“When they hit the first time with a hammer drill, it just collapsed.  A big chunk collapsed out of it, about a 6 foot chunk fell down probably around 2 feet,” Huff said.

“When it gets cold they (water mains) contract,” said David Wrone of the St. Louis County Department of Transportation.  “When it gets warm it expands.  The ground is also shifting around them.  You’ll get to a point where it’s like – if you do this to a rubber band long enough – you’re going to get that weak seem and pow!”

He said a 20-inch cast iron main blew; about 90% of the pipes in St. Louis County’s water system were older, cast iron, susceptible to our “back-and-forth” weather extremes.

Though this might not be the last, Wrone hoped it would be the biggest.

Even though the main repair was complete, the road repair is a much bigger job that may have to wait until it gets warmer.

“I’ve seen water main breaks throughout and around but that’s the biggest one ever right there.  It’s unbelievable…you could put a diving board off there,” Huff said.

“If you’re dealing with a crater that’s 30’ x 40’ that’s just not something you’re going to be able to use a hand trowel to fix.  Asphalt is really you’re only option,” Wrone said.

He added that could be too cold for asphalt plants to "fire up" and make asphalt the next couple of days, with highs only in the teens.

Only a handful of businesses and no residents lost water service.

The Missouri American Water Company reported that all water service had been restored Tuesday night.

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