Huge water main break floods major Hyattsville road with 6 million gallons

Workers examine the huge hole on Rt. 1 where a water main broke in Hyattsville. (Photo: WJLA/John Gonzalez)

HYATTSVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - A huge water main break sent an estimated six million gallons gushing out of the busted line onto a major Hyattsville roadway Thursday.

The 12-inch main ruptured around 4:30 p.m., utility officials said, flooding a stretch of Rhode Island Avenue (Route 1) near Crittenden Street, creating geysers and causing the road to buckle and turn into a river.

It took repair crews three hours before they were able to stem the flow of water. About 30 homes and businesses lost water service.

On Friday, the roadway was a muddy mess, with a 45-foot wide hole containing an old pipe that apparently just gave way.

While an official cause of the rupture had not been announced, utility officials said the pipe that burst was 73 years old.

Crews at the scene said an 18-foot section of the old pipe literally broke off the line and they were worried there could be more problems down below.

"We still have to dig further, to see if there are other breaks," said Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokesperson Lyn Higgins on Friday, adding that, by the time crews are done, they will have "dug all the way across Rhode Island Avenue."

As crews continued to dig Friday, only one southbound lane of traffic was getting by, and officials warned that Rhode Island Avenue would be completely closed Friday night, and possibly throughout the entire weekend.

"It's a main thoroughfare; traffic is going to be hectic,"{ }said frustrated resident Curtis Washington.

Meantime, the county was delivering boxes of water to the homes of residents without it. They also estimated about 16 businesses - including the District Courthouse along Route 1 - were still without water, too.

WSSC announced Friday evening that although the water main was back in service and water had been restored for all customers, the lane closures will remain in place while crews repair the road.

WSSC says it is replacing 55 miles of its aging 5,500-mile water main network a year, with replacement costs of $1.4 million per mile. It will cost about $100,000 to repair the damage on Rhode Island Avenue.