CLEVELAND – An aging water main broke open Thursday at a major downtown intersection, collapsing part of the street during the morning rush hour and flooding basements in at least four buildings, authorities said.
No injuries were reported. Water spilled out of a car-sized hole and onto surrounding streets in the Public Square area for about 90 minutes before officials were able to turn off water flowing to the pipe, said John Goersmeyer, a spokesman for Cleveland Division of Water.
Hundreds of workers at a 15-story office tower with flooding were evacuated as a precaution because the basement contains the building's electrical system, building manager Matt Ging said.
Traffic lights were out within a two-block radius, and water could be seen churning in the hole where the pavement collapsed. Authorities closed the intersection and rerouted traffic around the area, which filled with onlookers.
"It's really a good thing nobody went down there in a car or went over it at the time it happened," said Shane Chodak, 37. "I'm just wondering now how long it's going to take the city to repair it."
The size of the hole doubled as crews dug up the area to try to assess the damage.
The 30-inch water main has three smaller pipes that branch off, Goersmeyer said. It was unclear if the smaller pipes also burst or if nearby sewer pipes were damaged.
The water pipes are about 150-years old, Goersmeyer said.
"I'm told this is part of the city's original piping," he said.
The break was near Cleveland's two largest buildings, including the Tower City Center office-retail complex that was among the structures with basement flooding.
Sporadic water main breaks downtown have frustrated city officials in recent years.
A 116-year-old water main that broke in 2001 sent millions of gallons cascading across streets in a 10-block radius, stalling cars and flooding some basements.