Arlington, VA

(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) A large water transmission main serving Arlington ruptured early this morning amid falling temperatures, prompting major closures.

The water main break was first reported around 4:30 a.m. on the Arlington side of Chain Bridge. The northern end of N. Glebe Road, a portion of Chain Bridge Road and Chain Bridge itself were all expected to remain closed throughout the morning rush hour as a result.

(Chain Bridge and Chain Bridge Road has partially reopened as of 9:45 a.m. for drivers heading to and from D.C. and Fairfax County, VDOT said via Twitter.)

The rupture caused a portion of N. Glebe Road, on the hill leading to Chain Bridge, to collapse.

Large water transmission pipes run under the Chain Bridge, bringing water from the Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant in D.C. into Arlington. The pipe that burst was a 36-inch transmission main, significantly larger than the typical 12-inch residential water main, WTOP reported.

Though as of 6:35 a.m. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) reported that “crews have stabilized the transmission main break and pressure is being restored to County water lines,” much of the Arlington’s water service was impacted and nearly half of the county remains under a precautionary boil water advisory.

The boil water advisory is “expected to last until at least Sunday, after a series of testing,” according to Arlington Alert.

The closure of Glebe Road, meanwhile, is currently expected to last at least into the weekend.

The repair of the water main is expected to stretch into late Saturday or even into Sunday, DES Chief Operating Officer Mike Moon tells ARLnow. The road could remain closed until Tuesday, though there’s also a possibility it reopens this weekend, Moon said.

More permanent repairs to the road may be necessary even after it reopens, according to Moon. DES officials are still assessing the situation and expect to provide more information to the public on Saturday.

“It’s a major repair,” said DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “Crews are working as fast as possible… but we don’t have a [solid] timeline for the repair and the restoration of the roadway.”

Moon noted that water service has been restored to most of Arlington thanks to redundancy in the system. There are three large transmission pipes that run from D.C. to Arlington — two hanging under the bridge, one under the river — that supply the county’s water, and there are multiple paths that the water takes into Arlington once its reached the Virginia side of the Potomac.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, have closed today (Friday) due to the lack of water service, though football games will be played tonight

Two community centers are also closed, in addition to all APS facilities. Libraries are open but patrons are encouraged to bring bottled water.

Local restaurants, meanwhile, are using bottled water and disposable plates amid the boil water advisory, according to Washingtonian.

More on the boil water advisory, from a county press release:

As a precaution, Arlington County has issued a Boil Water Advisory for customers in the eastern area of the County (excluding Crystal City) who may be impacted by a large water transmission main break at Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road. (See area… on the map.) The break caused pressure drops in several locations across the County. The advisory is a safety measure because of the depressurization.

If you live in the affected area, you should bring your water to a rolling boil for three minutes then cool before:

  • Drinking
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Preparing baby food and formula
  • Making ice
  • Giving to pets

Information will be shared when the advisory has been lifted. Check the County website for updates.

Map via Google Maps. Some photos via Arlington DES/Twitter.

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