Water main break creates mess at Red Lion & Verree

It was a beau­ti­ful morn­ing on Monday, ex­cept at Ver­ree and Red Li­on roads. There, the day star­ted out wet, muddy and ir­rit­at­ing.

A wa­ter main break at about 6:30 a.m. flooded the in­ter­sec­tion and loused up the first com­mute of the week for mo­tor­ists who usu­ally pass through the neigh­bor­hood on the way to work.

Po­lice blocked off the in­ter­sec­tion, and traffic com­ing off Bustleton in­to the oth­er end of Ver­ree was de­toured over Grey­mont Street.

Ver­ree Road res­id­ents who live between Red Li­on and Bustleton shared in the soggy grief. They lost wa­ter pres­sure and it was al­most im­possible to drive out of their neigh­bor­hood. Even after 10 a.m., traffic was jammed.

And then, there was the mud left be­hind by the wa­ter that ini­tially had pooled in the cen­ter of the block. Wa­ter usu­ally runs to the middle of the block dur­ing heavy storms, res­id­ent Susan Lev­in said.

But what neigh­bors saw Monday was not usu­al.

Pa­tri­cia Amelio-Ry­an said her 2010 Dodge Chal­lenger was in wa­ter up its doors. It’s easy to see why. Ver­ree runs down­hill from Red Li­on and then, near Grey­mont, runs up­hill to­ward Bustleton Av­en­ue. The middle of the block is the bot­tom of two slopes, so wa­ter col­lects there.

Amelio-Ry­an, Lev­in and Chris­toph­er Castagna said Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment work­ers were on the scene with­in 90 minutes.

Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment spokes­man John Di­Gi­ulio said PWD first learned of the break at 7 a.m. Monday and had work­ers at the in­ter­sec­tion at about 8 a.m. He said the main was shut down and the wa­ter stopped flow­ing by about 9:20 a.m.

Neigh­bors in­ter­viewed shortly after 10 a.m. Monday didn’t have any wa­ter in front of their prop­er­ties, but they said the traffic snarls con­tin­ued.

“You can’t get out of the neigh­bor­hood,” said res­id­ent Scott Dea­con.

In the early even­ing Monday, Di­Gi­ulio told the North­east Times that wa­ter pres­sure was re­stored and the main was re­paired by 4:15 p.m. Monday and the crews were on the scene back­filling the street. He said PWD work­ers would clean up the mud.

The cause of the break in the main was not known Monday, but there have been oth­er breaks near Ver­ree and Red Li­on roads on the same wa­ter main, Di­Gi­ulio stated in an email to the news­pa­per.

“PWD has re­cently com­pleted the design work to re­place this wa­ter main between Ferndale and North­east Boulevard. In light of today’s break, we have been ex­ped­it­ing the bid,” Di­Gi­ulio said.

Any cus­tom­ers whose prop­er­ties were dam­aged by wa­ter from the break can call PWD’s cus­tom­er ser­vice line at 215-685-9602, he said. “We will send a claims ad­juster out to speak with them.”

The num­ber of wa­ter main breaks changes con­stantly, Di­Gi­ulio said.

“There can be a week with zero breaks, and there can be a week with up­wards of 50,” he stated.

Wa­ter tem­per­at­ure is a factor.

“The worst time of year for wa­ter main breaks is dur­ing the winter months, typ­ic­ally from Decem­ber through March, when the wa­ter tem­per­at­ures are con­sist­ently be­low 40 de­grees,” he stated.  

Any­one who sees a break can re­port it to PWD’s hot line, 215-685-6300. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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