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16th Street NW Reopens After Water Main Break

Update: 2:56 p.m.: Traffic has resumed in both directions on 16th Street NW, although work crews have closed one lane of the 1500 block of L Street, officials said.

Repair crews from the D.C. Water and Sewer authority are expected to be working for several more hours, until at least 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. to fix the main, said DC WASA spokeswoman Pamela Mooring. WASA has set up a work zone in the 1500 block of 17th Street.

The sidewalk on the east side of 16th Street NW is closed to pedestrians, said D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle. The agency has two traffic control officers in the area, Lisle said.

Update: 12:32 p.m.: Water from the break is creating icy conditions, officials warned.

Original post: A water main break this morning forced the closure of a section of 16th St. NW, tying up rush hour traffic in a part of downtown Washington.

Crews from the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority were called to the site of the break at the southeast corner of 16th and L streets NW at about 8:30 a.m. after two office buildings in the area experienced low water pressure, WASA spokeswoman Pamela Mooring said.

The crews began making repairs, which could take four to six hours, she said.

Police and D.C. Department of Transportation personnel blocked off 16th Street between K and M streets in both directions and closed parts of 17th Street and L Street in the vicinity.

Karyn Le Blanc, a spokeswoman for the department, said motorists should avoid 16th and 17th streets downtown. They are advised to take 13th, 14th or 18th street southbound and 14th, 15th or 18th street northbound, she said.

The closures were causing delays for eastbound traffic on K St. NW leaving the Whitehurst Freeway. Backups were also reported for southbound traffic on 16th St., with vehicles being forced to turn right onto M St.

Mooring said the broken main was relatively small; some water mains are 78 inches in diameter.

She said many mains fail his time of year when temperatures swing between cold and moderate. She said she did not know what the main was made of, but added that there are often several main failures a day during the winter.

See live traffic alerts.

-- By Theola Labbé-DeBose with William Branigin and Michael E. Ruane

By Washington Post Editors  |  January 12, 2009; 9:47 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Driving  
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