UPDATE: Water Main Repair Tough Work for Crews

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LANSING (WILX) - Hours later, crews have yet to even see a 12-inch diameter water main that burst Friday morning.

As day turned to night, workers were using heavy construction equipment to break up the asphalt as they attempted to clear away sewage and sand that had gathered.

Making things more difficult: navigating around electrical and communication ducts located nearby.

The water main break occurred shortly before 11 a.m. at the intersection of Cedar and Saginaw, caused by a shift in the ground due to warmer weather.

"When the spring thaw comes the pressure changes underground and so that can cause pipes to break," said Amy Akers, BWL social media specialist. "I don't know that there's anything necessarily that people can do to stop it from happening in the future. Really it's just because spring is coming and the ground is thawing so pressure is changing."

Center Street between Saginaw and Oakland was flooded, and the roadway was reduced to one lane.

The eastbound lanes of Saginaw, and southbound lanes of Cedar Streets were closed for a time after a water main break. Saginaw is reduced to two lanes, and Cedar is down to one.

Workers have shut off water to the area, to work on repairing the break, so residences and businesses in the area will lose water. A worker said he hopes water will be restored by Saturday morning.

Crews are hoping to have the road passable by Friday night, one worker said, and restore water to nearby businesses by Saturday morning.

Busy Year for Breaks

It's the latest reminder of a rough winter in mid-Michigan, which has seen an increase in the number of water main breaks. East Lansing, for example, has seen 18 more than last year.

The prolonged cold has extended the frost 18 inches deeper than normal, extending five feet into the ground, said Ron Lacasse, East Lansing's Infrastructure Administrator.

But Lacasse it's fortunate this warmup has happened slowly and that he's hopeful the worst is over.

Preventing a Water Main Break

Meridian Township has seen fewer water main breaks than surrounding areas, according to its chief engineer, thanks to preventative maintenance.

Meridian uses more flexible ductile iron, or even plastic pipes to ease the strain and fight aggressive soils.

The township has also buried many of its mains five feet off the road, often in grassy areas.

"The idea here you get a lot of snow storage over them and the snow is an insulator so you don't get that frost effect and more importantly, you don't get that loading from vehicles," said Chief Engineer Younes Ishraidi.

The township also does a good job of keeping track of aging mains, Ishraidi said.

Stay with WILX News 10 and WILX.com for updates as more information on the Lansing break becomes available.

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