Repairs continue following Northwest Austin water main break



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Posted on October 8, 2012 at 6:46 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 8 at 5:29 PM

AUSTIN -- Nearly 20 hours following an overnight water main break in Northwest Austin, crews remain on the scene making road repairs.

A spokesperson with Austin Water Utility says the water line itself was replaced just before 3:00 p.m. Monday. After that, road and bridge crews began repair on the pavement.

The 12-inch water main burst between midnight and 1:00 a.m. Monday along the stretch of York Boulevard between Stone Lake and MoPac. Water gushed out, breaking apart the asphalt.

“Water is very powerful as we all know. We've seen it in action but it still is always amazing what water can do. It does buckle the street somewhat,” explained Jill Mayfield of Austin Water.

The city barricaded the street to traffic. Several nearby office buildings, an apartment complex and the Baby Acapulco’s Mexican Restaurant were affected, but have additional access points for drivers. Baby Acapulco's closed for lunch and dinner since it didn' t have water.

At this point, officials say they still don't know what caused the line to break. An investigation is underway to determine the cause. Mayfield says cold weather can cause lines to break, but adds that it typically takes temperatures in the freezing range to have an impact on the lines.

KVUE spoke with Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell about the incident. He says this line is one of the city's newer lines and expects it was caused by some kind of defect or underground shifting.

Leffingwell says there's about 600 to 800 miles of old cast iron pipe that's mostly in the older part of the city. He says of the 4,000 miles of pipe in the city, most is fairly new.

KVUE asked Leffingwell about Proposition 12: Transportation and Mobility. Voters will consider 18 City of Austin propositions on Tuesday Nov. 6 in a special election.

The mayor said Prop 12 would not cover emergency issues like Monday's water main break. He says the water utility covers that cost.

"The bond item is for long-range planning, long-range projects, which does have a little bit to do with water mains, because normally when they redo a road, resurface it, they go underground and redo the water mains and other utility lines at the same time," Leffingwell said.

The mayor says ultimately, in the long term, the bond would do two things -- strategic repairs and routine maintenance.

He says the bond propositions would be funded by General Obligation Bonds, which are repaid by property taxes. However, he said that the property tax rate would not go up if these propositions are passed in November.