Map: approximate location of gas line break

February 14, 2013

Sewer line collapse snarls Portland traffic near Congress Sq.

From staff reports

PORTLAND — City officials are warning motorists to avoid High Street between Congress and Spring streets, which has been reduced to one lane because of a sewer pipe collapse that caused a depression in the roadway.

click image to enlarge

John Ewing/staff photographer: Workers from Unitil repair two natural gas line leaks on High Street in Portland on Thursday, February 14, 2013.

City Hall Spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said the left lane on High Street will be closed until the road is repaired, but it’s unclear when the work will be complete.

“I would advise motorists to avoid that area,” Clegg said Thursday afternoon. “Traffic is pretty backed up.”

The sewer pipe, which dates back to the 1870s, collapsed Thursday morning. Sewer service was not disrupted and no raw sewage was observed at street level, Clegg said.

Officials are still trying to determine the cause, which could be attributed to the pipe’s age. However, Clegg noted that Unitil crews were working on gas lines in the same area.

“That could be coincidental,” Clegg said of Unitil’s work in the area. “It could have been the age and the weather.”

The city is currently negotiating a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency for previous sewer pipe failures. It has allocated $700,000 to study and develop a plan to upgrade its sewer system.

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:
Twitter: @randybillings

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