Glenwood Avenue water main break a sign of aging infrastructure in Raleigh

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Traffic problems are still happening in the area of Raleigh’s busiest intersections after a Monday morning water main break.

It happened near the intersection of Blue Ridge Road and Glenwood Avenue near I-440 and has caused several detours in the area.

After tearing the road up, engineers with Raleigh Public Works believe the break was more than likely caused by the temperature change or a “water hammer,” which is common in aging cast iron pipes.

“We’re getting into what we call main break season,” said Raleigh city engineering manager Eileen Navarrete.  You have these big swings in temperatures from the daytime to nighttime.  As we get down below freezing, and the ground warms back up, and the temperature warms back up, we start to see breaks in the system.”

With 2,400 miles of waterline and 2,500 miles of sewer zig-zagging across six local communities, keeping up with the aging infrastructure can get complicated.

“From a rehabilitation and replacement perspective, different pipe materials last a different amount of time,” said Navarrete. “Infrastructure on the sewer side doesn’t last as long as it does on the water side. No surprise the environment is a lot harsher than it is on the water side.”

Currently, the City of Raleigh has roughly $60-million worth of improvements underway to the water and sewer infrastructure.

“The goal is to replace about 1% of our pipe every year so that assumes a service life of about 100 years,” said Navarrete.

With the city growing at a rapid rate it puts more stress on the system, so they’re committing another $400 million over the next 10 years to try and get ahead of the problem.

“When we’re out there in people’s neighborhoods and on busy roads and a break happens and we have to shut lanes down and a road down, it’s frustrating for a lot of our citizens and we know that.  Unfortunately, it’s necessary to keep the city running,” said Navarrete.

Officials set up a detour around the work area:  Motorists traveling inbound to downtown Raleigh on Glenwood Avenue will take a right on Creedmoor Road, continue to Wade Avenue using Creedmoor Road to access I-440.

Motorists traveling outbound from downtown Raleigh on Lead Mine Road will continue to Blue Ridge Road, take a right on Glen Eden Drive, take a left on Glenwood Avenue, and continue to access I-440.

All Northbound lanes of Glenwood Avenue remain open. Motorists approaching the area should expect traffic delays and are advised to avoid this area if possible. 

Construction schedules are subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen conditions.  

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