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Pipe Bursts, Flooding Street Medical Center Damaged As Water Main Gives Out

A broken water main near Sacred Heart Medical Center early Wednesday sunk a 40-foot slab of Division Street and sent rocks, leaves and mud flying every which way.

A water-pressure surge about 3 a.m. broke a foot-wide hole in the 24-inch line, ripping open the roadway on Division between Seventh and Eighth avenues, said John Freese, construction supervisor for the Spokane Water Department.

By 5 a.m., crews found the hole in the 90-year-old pipe and shut off the water.

The pipe moves water from wells to reservoirs, Freese said. Because the line doesn’t directly supply homes or businesses, no one went without water.

Access to two Sacred Heart parking garages along the broken-up strip of Division remained open. The street’s closure caused only minor traffic disruptions.

Water collecting along Fifth and Division caused minor damage to the Fifth and Browne Medical Center.

“There was water and mud everywhere,” said Lynn Davis, vice president of R.W. Robideaux and Co., which manages the building. “It’s a major mess.”

No other damage was reported.

Freese blames the break on a test of the city’s water system that caused a surge in water pressure.

“There was a weak spot, but the overall integrity of the pipe is fairly good,” he said.

The aging line is scheduled to be replaced within 10 years, but it isn’t yet in the six-year repair plan, he said.

Crews plan to patch the hole and repair the street by Friday evening, Freese said.

The city’s last two major water-main breaks occurred in 1993. A 30-inch water main broke in May of that year near the intersection of Division and Pacific, blocking Division for most of the day.

In November 1993, a 12-inch main ruptured on Hamilton Street, flooding the road between Trent and the Centennial Trail overpass.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo; Map of Water main rupture area