Hermitage Avenue Will Remain Closed For Several Weeks
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Repairs have been completed but officials said it would still be weeks before Hermitage Avenue near downtown Nashville would reopen after a water main ruptured.
The road was shut down in both directions between Fesslers Lane and Fairfield Avenue because of a huge water main break Tuesday afternoon.
Officials with Metro Water Services said crews started around 3 p.m. to repair a 36-inch water main, just before the evening commute.
The pressure in the pipe buckled the sidewalk and then broke the street open with a loud boom. Witnesses said rocks and pavement went flying into the air. Hermitage Avenue and other nearby streets were quickly turned into small rivers.
Crews were forced to open a huge hole in the road to get to the water pipe and make repairs. They worked through the night in cold temperatures.
Work on the water main was completed Wednesday afternoon, but officials said it would take 2-3 weeks to fix the damage made to Hermitage Avenue.
Depending on weather, the road was expected to open to drivers by March 22. It was expected to take even longer for sidewalk repairs.
Officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department will be on site to help residents and businesses access the area from downtown. Access will be closed from the Fesslers Lane side.
Drivers have been asked to avoid the area or find alternative routes. Cars from downtown will be detoured at Fairfield Avenue to Murfreesboro Pike, then back up Fesslers lane to Lebanon Pike – or vice versa for vehicles coming into town from the east.
Sonia Harvat with Metro Water Services said the pipe was in the ground but there was still a lot to do before the line was put back into service.
"The next steps are to fill this with water, pressure test it, disinfect it, do all of the testing – and that's going to require quite a bit of time," she said. "It may not look like a lot of work is going on, but when you have to fill a 36-inch water main it takes time to fill it. It has to sit for a couple of days with the chlorine in order to become fully disinfected, and then we'll have to take all our samples and make sure those samples come back clean."
The line was not expected to be back in service until Monday.
Harvat said the reason it would take so long before reopening the road was because of possible damage below the surface.
"A lot of dirt and gravel under the sidewalks, under the roads and some of these parking lots was undermined by the rush of water," said Harvat. "There's going to be extensive restoration required here to make sure that the roadway and the sidewalks are safe."
The cause of the break was still under investigation, but officials said a very large section of the pipe came out. Changes in pressure, ground shifting or the age of the pipe could have been a factor.
Only one home was without water. Several businesses were flooded.