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Downtown repairs continue

Traffic around Perron Street and Sir Winston Churchill Avenue will continue to be complicated this week, as city crews repair a broken water main that flooded the area last week.

Traffic around Perron Street and Sir Winston Churchill Avenue will continue to be complicated this week, as city crews repair a broken water main that flooded the area last week.

The water main broke in the early evening of Jan 5, deep under the intersection of Perron and Sir Winston Churchill. Water flowed down Perron toward the Sturgeon River, flooding several businesses on the way.

City crews opened up Sir Winston Churchill last week and installed new valves as a temporary solution to keep the water flowing to homes and businesses, but on Thursday they expect to start work on a more permanent fix to the broken main.

Utilities manager Dan Rites said the city decided to go with a two-phase approach because work on the permanent solution is going to be time consuming and difficult. The affected area has a lot of underground utilities that will make it difficult for crews, he said.

“There are a lot of utilities there where we are going to be digging so we really have to plan this out.”

Rites said the temporary solution allowed crews access for a quicker fix.

“We knew it was going to be a battle to get down there and deal all the buried utilities and the frozen ground, so this is why the two-staged approach.”

Initially the city thought only the provincial building and a handful of downtown residents were affected by the water rerouting, but they have since learned it was more widespread, Rites said.

He said several downtown condominium buildings were receiving water, but the pressure was too low to service upper level floors.

“The water pressure just wasn’t high enough to reach the third and fourth floors.”

Rites said even though water is flowing normally they still have to repair the water line at the point where it actually broke.

“It is still a major feed into the downtown area, we were able to re-direct pressures to supply the downtown, but it is definitely in our best interest to restore that.”

City crews will be taking down barricades on Sir Winston Churchill and Perron Street on Wednesday to make way for the Olympic torch run, but Rites said they plan to put them right back up on Thursday morning.

Storm sewers froze up after the water main break, which made the flooding even worse, Rites said. Unfortunately there is very little the city can do about that, but he is pleased they have good relationships with contractors that used steam equipment to open those sewers up again.

“Anytime you have a water break in - 25 [C] degree weather you are going to have things freezing up,” he said. “We did have people in place to deal with those things when they did come up.”