PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) --- On Thursday City Commissioners Nick Fish and Steve Novick visited downtown small businesses affected by the water main break on West Burnside Street in downtown Portland.
Fish, who oversees the Water Bureau, said crews have installed 36 feet of new underground piping at the intersection of Southwest 4th Avenue and West Burnside Street.
The water main ruptured around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday and caused extensive damage. Thousands of gallons of water flooded the Embassy Suites and knocked out power to the building. At one point, officials said about four feet of water filled the building’s electrical room. The Embassy Suites was forced to transfer all its guests to the nearby Hilton. The Embassy Suites reopened Wednesday afternoon.
PBOT said Thursday afternoon lane closures on W. Burnside Street and the closure of SW 4th Avenue will continue "at least through next week." Rain in the forecast affected the scheduled, PBOT spokesperson Dylan Rivera said in a release.
Novick, who oversees the Transportation Bureau, said the repairs have been delayed because the ground is too saturated. Crews have to dig deeper to find stable ground so the new pavement will be supported.
Both commissioners went to Blue Collar Baking Company Thursday morning to promote its reopening. The business, which is on the street level of the Embassy Suites building on 3rd and Pine avenues, has been without power since Tuesday. Late Wednesday, contractors were able to get the emergency generators working. Wallace Becker, owner of Blue Collar Baking, said he had to throw out about a month’s worth of food inventory because of the power outage.
Becker opened the business less than two years ago. It caters to downtown employees. Becker said being closed for two days forced some of his regulars to walk across the street to his competitors.
Fish and Novick understand his frustration.
“It’s really, really tough for the business owners because they are losing revenue,” Novick said.
Fish said Thursday the Water Bureau isn’t able to predict when a water main will break. There are more than 2,500 miles of water piping throughout the city. Many of those date back to 1905, city spokesman Tim Hall told KOIN.
“When pipes get to be 100 years old then they are dangerous,” Novick said.
The city is working to replace some of the oldest pipes, but it requires a great deal of time and money. The costs of the repairs get footed by taxpayers. The more preventative maintenance the city wants to do correlates to tax rates, Novick said.
“We have an old system that continues to age,” Fish said.
-- Brent Weisberg
Follow on Twitter: @BrentKOIN
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