City officials say it will be 10 p.m. Thursday before they can reopen all southbound lanes of Capital Boulevard near Brentwood Road after a water main break closed three lanes of traffic late Wednesday morning.
It was the second time this week that a water main failure has snarled traffic on a major road in the city. A broken pipe closed East Six Forks Road near Anderson Drive and Wake Forest Road on Sunday night, and city officials said the road would remain closed for repaving until midnight Wednesday.
The city had expected to reopen Six Forks by 6 p.m. Wednesday but said more time was needed for the asphalt to cool properly.
City staffers aren’t yet sure what caused the breaks.
“Neither the Six Forks 12” water main, nor the 16” Capital Blvd water main have a history of breaks or leaks that raised their priority for replacement, so both failures are unexpected,” Public Utilities Director Robert Massengill wrote in an email.
Construction crews recovered the damaged section of pipe on Six Forks and are still examining it to determine why it broke. At 55 years old, the pipe should have had another 20 years of life left, Massengill said.
“However, many factors impact and can shorten the actual service life of a pipe, including soil conditions, operating pressures, quality of the pipe materials, and original construction quality,” he said.
The water main break on Capital could have come from the 16-inch main or from a nearby fire hydrant leg, Massengill said. The main is 65 years old.
More than 300 water mains break each year, he added.
“So having two main breaks in one week is not unusual,” Massengill wrote. “However, it is unusual to have two main break in the same week along major traffic corridors.”
City officials urged motorists to avoid southbound Capital near Brentwood, where three of four southbound lanes are closed.