Water Main Break Shuts Down Columbia Pike

by ARLnow.com September 19, 2012 at 9:45 am 5,219 38 Comments

Update at 3:30 p.m. — Columbia Pike has reopened.

A water main break prompted authorities to shut down a large section of Columbia Pike for most of the morning.

Columbia Pike is currently closed to through traffic  from George Mason Drive to Four Mile Run. One worker on the scene estimated that the closure would last until around noon.

A break in an 8-inch water main under Columbia Pike across from the Whitemore Apartments (4301 Columbia Pike) was reported around 4:00 a.m. The water was quickly shut off, but Arlington County crews have had to dig a six foot deep hole in the westbound lanes in order to reach the burst pipe.

No one has lost water as a result of the water main break, we’re told.


  • Insert.

    . For the record, the bus route would be just as useless since no traffic is being sent on CoPi.

    • SomeGuy

      Buses would have the option to route around Columbia Pike, regardless of whether that option is being exercised in this specific instance.

  • nom de guerre

    Water main break is located in the future streetcar lane on the Pike.

    • Greg

      Of course it is. Once the streetcar is built, I’m sure they’ll be able to use buses to get people to their destination.

      Biggest waste of money ever.

    • thelevyisdry

      When the streetcar arrives the giant hole will simply be dug in the adjacent lane … and from there under the tracks … which will still be in use …. Well I’m sure that’s address somewhere in the alternatives analysis … except that I read it and didn’t see it ….

      Contingency plan: No water main breaks will be allowed after the streetcar tracks are laid.

      • John Fontain

        Yep, I’m sure the water mains are on board with that plan.

        This situation does reveal an interesting problem with the streetcar in that a problem like this would likely result in the streetcar being out of service for multiple days even if the actual watermain repair took only a few hours. It’s one thing to refill the hole and do a quick temporary repave. It’s another thing completely to properly repave and reinstall properly aligned tracks.


        • malaka

          one wonders how they manage in all of those many other cities that have been successfully running streetcars for decades over much older infrastructure.

          • SomeGuy

            They probably have the same inconvenience, malaka. And perhaps if they had it to do over again, they’d have chosen a dedicated bus service with more flexibility and at a fraction of the cost.

          • malaka

            what’s a “dedicated bus service” as opposed to a regular bus service?
            Most – if not all – of those cities have streetcars to augment their bus services

          • SomeGuy

            Scratch the word “dedicated.” The point still stands.

            How does the need to augment a streetcar system with a bus system bolster your argument?

          • SomeGuy

            …or vice-versa.

          • malaka

            These cities have buses..but found that they needed to add streetcar services. Contrary to your position that buses would fit all possible needs of the community

          • SomeGuy

            What need do the alleged supplemental streetcars fill that a bus could not? And can you please identify such a city?

          • malaka

            Vienna , Budapest, Leipzig, Prague, Kiev, Turin, Milan, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Brussels, Zagreb, Zurich, Bucharest ,Toronto, Manchester, Melbourne, Sydney, Boston, New Orleans, Newark, Seattle, Philadelphia . Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Memphis, Portland, Tampa, Little Rock.

          • I can’t speak for the others…

            But streetcars (ie trolleys) in New Orleans are a rolling tourist attraction.

            The streetcar on St. Charles is 130 years old or more; while Canal and Riverfront lines are a good bit newer, they were built on the assumption that they would encourage tourists to travel along their routes to parts of the city that aren’t the Vieux Carre (ie the French Quarter).

            No one’s even alleged tourists will be enticed to venture from DC (via two transfers) to visit picturesque Bailey’s Crossroads.

            As for the other cities mentioned, they’re free to blow their money on trolleys all they want. In some cases they are meant to serve tourists like in NOLA, and could potentially be a good investment. But in most, they’re sending good money down the toilet in exchange for tax rates that would make even most liberal Democrats in the US blush.

          • SomeGuy

            Your response to my question is incomplete.

        • nom de guerre

          Modern streetcar tracks are typically embedded in concrete. This would make the initial excavation and subsequent repair a lot more time consuming, including the time involved for the concrete to cure.

  • that guy

    impressive that no one lost any water or pressure, I would’ve never known in my shower this morning… anyone know anything about how they can tell exactly where a “burst” is? digging up a major road to get to 6 feet deep doesn’t seem like a good guessing game…

  • ArlingtonRaised

    I love the fact that whenever I drive by a street construction crew there are at least 5 men standing around looking at the hole. Sometime just watching other men digging or working in the hole. Do we really need that many county contracted workers?

    • Hollywood

      Yay stimulus!

    • Mike Hunt

      Just like the TSA!!
      except they are standing around doing nothing

    • nom de guerre

      Current County regulations require one worker representing each “flavor” (race, national origin, gender, age group, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, vegetarian, carnivore, etc.) at every worksite so hence the 12 individuals in the picture.

    • Earth Mover

      Those are called civil engineers. Trust me, you want them standing and watching.

      • drax

        Nah, let’s just assume based on things we don’t understand.

        • FairfaxEngineer

          He or she may have assumed but they were accurate. I am an engineer for Fairfax and those are definitely not all engineers. At most 2 of them are.

          So don’t assume they are incorrect and side with someone else who might be assuming as well.

  • Tabby_TwoTone

    An excellent opportunity exists for a rep from Jenny Craig to drop off flyers.

  • Columbia Piker

    Excellent – the ride home will have another shoddily patched piece of road that the buses will turn into a pothole nightmare in the next 36 hours.

    I don’t care what your transportation preference is now or in the future – but this stretch of road proves that our tax dollars will be routed to the current transfer payment system of the day over keeping basic infrastructure in an operable condition.

  • BangBrahs

    I’ve seen bigger, sleepier holes that that.

    • BangBrahs

      *Than* Sorry brahs.

      • SomeGuy

        I’m surprised that ArlNow lets you continue to use that picture and persona combo considering his comment policy explicitly states that he’ll remove comments that contain “Misleading claims about the comment’s authorship.”

  • DB

    Would have been nice if they’d sent an Arlington Alert about this mess. The Pike and Four Mile Run were nightmares this morning b/c of this.

  • YTK

    Traffic was so messed up that THREE (count em, THREE) 16Y buses got to my stop at the same time. And there was FOURTH 16Y right behind them.

    • Wiz

      I had to give up on 16Y and take ART to Clarendon. The Horror!

  • they were working on the water pipes at 4 mile run a week or two ago

  • deebee

    Where werer one or two of Arlington’s finest when they were needed to help direct and flow traffic? The major hangup was at the light at Four Mile Run and George Mason Dr. The Four Mile Run green light is short to begin with and with most traffic coming from Columbia Pike trying to turn left onto George Mason to get back to the eastbound Pike only two or three vehicles were able to make the left turn on each cycle which backed up everything on Four Mile Run and onto eastbound Columbia Pike at the detour. If the police were there to direct and flow at that intersection traffic would have flowed much smoother from the Pike to George Mason.


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