One errant stroke of a backhoe sent thousands of gallons of water cascading into the North Second Street underpass late this morning, the latest in a string of frustrations for workers filling a giant hole in the street.
Work on the storm-sewer repair project was projected to be done by the end of next week, said Steve Glass, president of LRM Industries, lead contractor on the $602,000 project.
But another contractor's giant excavator changed the timeline this morning when the scoop ruptured an 8-inch water line at the southeast corner of North Second and Locust streets. Glass said the broken line probably would set the project back another two days.
"We were within 70 feet of tying it all together," Glass said, referring to the rerouting of a 36-inch storm sewer pipe for draining North Lawrence. "It's the way the whole thing's gone."
Crews eventually shut off water to a one-block area on Locust between North Second and North Third streets, but pumps still worked to suck water from the hole and underpass. The area has had traffic detours since the hole was discoved June 3.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said breaking the 8-inch distribution line was the bad news, causing water service to be closed off in the one-block area.
"The good news is it wasn't the 16-inch line that serves all of North Lawrence," he said.
The hole, which city crews discovered in June, was created when water cascading from a broken Depression-era sewer pipe eroded the ground beneath North Second just north of the bridge over the Kansas River.