The gashed water main that gushed millions of gallons in downtown Minneapolis on Jan. 3 will cost the city at least $325,000, according to a preliminary estimate released Wednesday.
The city estimate was the first attempt at capturing the order of magnitude of the city’s expenses from a rupture that was unprecedented in modern city history, and City Engineer Steve Kotke said the amount will likely rise.

Previously the only cost the city had placed on the construction-site accident was an estimated cost of $65,000 for the lost water.

But the incident caused during an excavation for a sewer connection posed myriad costs, including crews turning out to shut off water to the area, pushing the water toward the river, setting up street detours, installing a temporary above-ground pipe to serve affected residents, repaving the leak site, and testing to make sure restored water was safe.

Who pays?  The city next will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the various parties working at the break at the 222 Hennepin apartment-retail project.

Kotke said his understanding is that there were at least three levels of construction involvement: general contractor Ryan Companies, subcontractor United Sewer and Water, and a sub to United that was actually manning the crawler hoe as it was driving a sleeve for the sewer connection under the water main and nearby utilities. Scott Beron, Ryan’s public safety director, referred an inquiry on that point to United, which hasn’t returned repeated calls for comment.

“It’s going to be pretty much insurance companies and lawyers from now on,” Beron said.
The estimate from the city does not include costs incurred by others in the area. For example, 33 Postal Service vehicles and 20 more owned by postal employees were ruined when water flowing down streets inundated the parking ramp at the main post office. That damage easily will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, although postal authorities weren’t able to provide a cost Wednesday.