About 90,000 gallons of water gushed into the streets near Target Center on Tuesday, the second water main break this year that brought traffic and business to a standstill in downtown Minneapolis.
The sports arena had no water, and a health club and restaurant were shut down for most of the the day after the early-morning break, which snarled traffic and left a car-sized sinkhole.
Mark Ebert, general foreman for the city’s water distribution, said the recent rain could have caused the break, which can happen when the ground shifts because of very dry or very rainy weather. Despite the mess, it was a considerably smaller break than one in the Warehouse District on Jan. 3, which spewed 14 million gallons when a backhoe tore into a 36-inch water main. About 50 vehicles in the nearby Post Office ramp were destroyed, dozens of downtown workers were sent home early and crews worked around the clock to repair the damage, reroute traffic and clean the mess.
The city has started a pipe replacement plan because most of its pipes were put in place in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that pipes last about 60 years.
City officials said Tuesday they’re not sure how long it will take to fix the sinkhole that opened at the break site just outside the arena, on the western edge of downtown. City spokesman Matt Laible said water from the break eroded the soil at the site, creating a depression in the street. Crews later broke the roadway so they could get to the main, he said.
On Tuesday morning, traffic was detoured around the site, causing a slowdown for commuters coming downtown from Interstate 394. It also caused problems for the evening commute. The city closed 2nd Avenue N. between 6th and 7th streets. The city said that repairs were underway and that a portion of the roadway should be open in time for the Wednesday morning commute.
Eighteen workers scrambled Tuesday afternoon to replace a 10-foot section of 16-inch pipe so the Minnesota Lynx-Atlanta Dream game could go on as scheduled at 8 p.m.
Doors closed most of day
Those repairs also allowed Huberts restaurant and Life Time Fitness in the Target Center building to reopen Tuesday night. On a normal Tuesday, about 1,500 people use Life Time Fitness.
Abbie Snell, sales and marketing manager at Huberts, said the “biggest bummer” would have been missing the crowd of several hundred that comes to the bar for Lynx games. “Those games are so fun, and they do really well for us,” she said.
The city said it appeared that Target Center was the only building that lost water service.
City crews were on the scene since shortly after 7 a.m. when the pipe burst and flooded 2nd Avenue between 6th and 7th.
Water also flowed onto nearby I-394 and flooded ramps at 6th and 4th streets. The State Patrol closed both ramps for about 30 minutes, leaving commuters with the options of exiting at 12th or 3rd streets.