San Diego

Broken Water Pipe Floods Busy La Jolla Intersection

A busy commercial intersection in La Jolla was closed to traffic Friday as crews worked to cap a broken water pipe that sent rivers of flood water down streets.

The underground pipe broke just before 5 p.m. near the crossing of Girard Avenue and Pearl Street, but luckily, did not flood any storefronts, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

City crews were able to cap the main at around 5:45 p.m. but it took them more than three additional hours to clean up the mess.

"It was unusual because usually I'm smelling salt water and my coffee," witness Christopher Briscoe said. This time he smelled fresh water. "I look around the corner and the entire intersection is flooded and it's a big mess."

Briscoe said he looked down the street and saw traffic backed up for blocks.

Although unfortunate for commuters and businesses in the area, Briscoe and others nearby couldn't help but be entertained by the apparent maze game crews need to master to shut off underground pipes.

"The greatest thing -- these guys are in the middle of the street, looking for the valve and they turn this one and they turn that one and they get the right one and all these pedestrians on the corner start clapping, and that was the best part."

Crews said there are a couple of factors that have slowed their repair efforts. One is a 69,000-volt electrical line the runs near the break, and the other is a fiber optic cable that provided internet connection to tens of thousands of people.

A city spokesperson said what broke was a feeder pipe that brings water from the water main to a sidewalk fire hydrant. The cause fo the break has not been determined.

The intersection is expected to remain closed until Saturday morning.

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