Pipe repaired, water and traffic flowing again on Upper Main Street, Edgartown

Edgartown water department personnel used pumps to draw down the flooded area of Upper Main Street. — Photo by Steve Myrick

A water pipe break flooded Upper Main Street in Edgartown Monday morning, disrupting traffic and leaving local businesses and homes without water service. Water department crews quickly located and repaired a faulty coupling and by 5 pm water and traffic were flowing again.

Police, fire, and water department personnel responded just before 10 am, as water from the broken pipe flooded the street in front of Sharky’s Cantina and Donaroma’s Nursery. Water was hip deep when they first arrived, and continued to bubble out of a deep hole just off the roadway. Water department crews brought in pumps to remove the standing water and heavy equipment to locate the break. The water did not flood any nearby homes or businesses.

Police kept traffic flowing into the downtown area by diverting vehicles onto the narrow shoulder on the north side of the roadway, and began planning for a long-term project. “We’re prepared to build a new (temporary) road to keep the lanes open,” police chief Tony Bettencourt said as crews got to work.

Water department personnel shut down water service to a wide area of Upper Main Street, until they could locate and diagnose the specific problem.

Chris White, co-owner of Edgartown Pizza, was one of the many businesses who were without water. “We’ve got pots of water on the stove boiling, but I’m waiting to see what happens,” she told The Times Monday afternoon. “We’re playing it by ear.”

Arthur Fundeklian of North Andover was one of several Vineyard Transportation Authority (VTA) riders who were temporarily delayed, because the large VTA buses could not traverse the uneven shoulder that became the temporary travel lane around the water-filled street.

Passengers traveling into Edgartown were dropped off at the Dark Woods parking lot.

“There’s a small bus that’s supposed to come pick us up, at some time in the future,” Mr. Fundeklian said, sounding not at all sure he would reach his destination. But within minutes, a smaller VTA vehicle arrived and shuttled the passengers through the work zone.

By noon, work crews had drained most of the water from the street, and began repairing the broken pipe. Traffic flowed along both lanes, except for brief periods when work crews occupied one lane with a front end loader and trucks.

Edgartown water superintendent Bill Chapman said the crews located a failed coupling that joined two 12-inch pipes together.  “It’s not terribly old; there are certainly older parts of the distribution system that I would think would be more prone to problems,” he said. “The pipe composition, it’s inherent for these failures. The pipe was a good option at the time of its installation, but there is more reliable and durable pipe that can be installed now.”

The repair was made to the pipe and water service was restored about 2 pm.

“We like to minimize the area of the shutdown,” Mr. Chapman said. “In this case it was a series of five valves we had to shut down. It turned out to be a larger area than I would have liked, but as soon as we had the repair done, we restored water so people had water and fire protection.”

By 5:15 pm, crews completed work to make sure the roadway was not compromised, filled in the excavation, and traffic returned to normal.

The day was not without humorous elements as people made the best of the situation. J.B. Blau, owner of Sharky’s Cantina, sent a social media message to customers, along with a picture of the flooded roadway in front of his restaurant. “We’ve installed a lagoon outside of Sharky’s Edgartown and will be renting out jet skis and motor boats for your holiday pleasure!” he wrote.