Break-prone Midtown water main being replaced

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A water main along Waco Street between Murdock and 13th Street North is being replaced after several ruptures over the past few years.

The construction manager for the City of Wichita’s Public Works and Engineering Department says the water main along the several block span is around 100-years-old.

“That is old,” said manager Steve Degenhardt. He says that it will take around $500,000 to replace the old line with new line, as well as several months to do the project.

“It’s certainly a much need project in order to fix the service disruption that happens every time a water main breaks,” Degenhardt said. He says that it can be costly to repair a break in a water main, from fixing the pipe to fixing the road after water washes away dirt and other road materials. 

The 100-year-old line will remain in service while the new line is bored underground. Degenhardt says that by boring the new water main underground, instead of excavating all the ground out, and laying the line in, will save much of the landscaping along Waco; the street is lined with several mature trees.

Local restaurant owner Mario Quiroz says that his business, Molino’s Mexican Cuisine, is seeing good and bad from the construction.

“I think our sales dropped in the last couple weeks,” Quiroz said, but quickly added his restaurant has to shut down each time the old water main breaks and water service is shut down.

“For us, with no water, we can't work,” Quiroz said. “Just for now, we need to suffer for a little bit but I think in the long term, I think it’s going to be better for the neighborhood.”

The old water main will be abandoned, not removed, when the new line projected to be completed in October of 2017 goes online. While construction is ongoing, Waco Street will be reduced to one lane in either direction and speed limits reduced to 20 miles per hour in the work area.

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