Officials fear streets could cave after water-main break at Chelten and Pulaski avenues

Philadelphia Water Department crews are on the scene of a water main break which was reported around 12:30 p.m. at Chelten and Pulaski avenues in Germantown.

“No word yet on the cause of the break,” NBC10 initally reported.

PWD spokesman John DiGiulio tells NewsWorks that it is a 30-inch water main, but that he did not have any other details at this time. He noted that he was likely heading to the scene, which is at the front end of the Chelten Plaza development.

NewsWorks freelance photographer Bas Slabbers reports from the scene there is no water damage reported from nearby businesses, some small sinkholes are developing in the street, surrounding properties may suffer drop in water pressure and there is no timetable for the roadway to be cleared, according to a PWD spokeswoman.

Update from the scene

A pool of murky water flooded the intersection of Chelten and Pulaski and around 2:30 p.m., a work crew was trying to a valve that could possibly shut down the leak. They had already shutdown nearby valves, but water continued to spurt through the buckled street.

That is one of the reasons PWD’s deputy commissioner of operations Debra McCarty said she thought the break is on the 30-inch transmission main.

“Transmission mains does not serve homes directly,” she said. “They take it to smaller mains that serve homes directly like 6-inch or 8-inch mains.”

There are at least four other mains in the intersection, which was closed along with the southbound lane of Chelten at Wayne Avenue.

“One of the reasons we are trying to keep traffic out of here, in addition to employee safety which of course is very important, is once we stop this, the street is going to cave in,” said McCarty.

McCarty said if they are able to open the lanes safely, they will do so. However, it will not be fully open because of the work they are doing.

They are unsure how long it will take to stop the leak will take because they are not completely sure about the nature, and cause, of the break.

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