Water gushes out of pavement in S.F.

Water from a broken century-old underground pipe burst through the surface of Taraval Street on Monday morning, warping the asphalt, leaving businesses stranded without water for five hours and disrupting service on Muni’s L-Taraval train.

The 8-inch water main broke at approximately 9 a.m. in front of a Citibank building at the busy intersection of Taraval and 19th Avenue. The pipe, estimated to be 100 years old, snapped without warning, according to Suzanne Gautier of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the city water agency.

Maintenance workers from the PUC were able to repair the pipe and restore water service to local businesses by approximately 2 p.m., Gautier said. Traffic on the eastbound side of Taraval near 19th Avenue was halted while crews worked to repair the asphalt, which was distorted by water rushing from the broken main. The street was expected to be repaved and reopened by 8 p.m. Monday, with traffic resuming as usual.

Service on the L-Taraval line was restored by 4 p.m., according to Muni officials. Motor coach shuttles replaced the train during the service disruption.

Marie Arabejo, who works as a receptionist across the street from the broken main at Taraval Eye Care Optometry, said that around 9 a.m. she began noticing brown-colored water slowly leaking from street cracks. By 9:15 a.m., the water started flowing more rapidly from the cracks, yet drivers, pedestrians, and the operators of the L-Taraval took little notice of the situation.

“There were big trucks driving all over it, even when the water was pouring out,” said Arabejo. “I even saw a cop drive by without stopping.”

Arabejo said the broken main prevented her shop from producing prescription lenses, which are etched with water.

Domenico Digrande, a cook at Gold Mirror restaurant at 18th Avenue and Taraval, said the broken main forced the restaurant to close during lunch. He said a claims inspector from The City quickly came out after the accident to drop off a form so the restaurant could recoup its losses.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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