Water main break, sinkhole close Port Angeles intersection

The intersection of Fifth and Lincoln streets is expected to reopen to traffic today, Thursday, Jan. 25, in the afternoon after a city pipe broke and spewed water that knocked out asphalt and created a sinkhole on Jan. 24.

A 30-foot by 50-foot asphalt patch is planned, said Jessica Straits, Port Angeles city spokesperson. The sinkhole was originally reported as being 10 feet by 10 feet.

No people or vehicles were damaged when the water from the 4-inch water main exploded from the intersection at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday, Straits said.

Utility repair work was underway Wednesday afternoon and surface restoration and pavement work was expected Thursday.

The breakage was one of several that have been reported in the city over the last few years, some spectacular breaks such as the 20-inch pipe break near Golf Course Road in September 2021 which shot water some 80 feet into the air.

“Unfortunately, this incident is the result of aging infrastructure,” Straits said of the Lincoln and Fifth streets water main break.

“We understand the significance of these issues, and a number of projects have been recently completed, are currently underway, or are being planned to increase the capacity and reliability of our water and wastewater systems,” she added.

Local traffic is being detoured onto Peabody Street. U.S. Highway 101 through traffic — which ordinarily would come through town on Lincoln and First streets — is being detoured onto Tumwater Truck Route.

About 10 city water customers, who regained water by mid-afternoon Wednesday, were put on a precautionary boil water advisory. Those affected were on the south side of Fifth Street between Lincoln and Chase streets.

Following repairs, the water main was disinfected and flushed, and city personnel took water samples to test if the water is safe. When satisfactory test results have been received, the precautionary boil water notice will be lifted. Impacted customers will be notified by door hanger when the water is safe again, the city said.

During a boil-water notice, residents are asked to eliminate bacteria and other organisms that may have been introduced into the water by bringing tap water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Let the water cool before using.

Tap water is safe for showering, bathing and other household uses, including washing dishes in the dishwasher as long as the heat/sanitizing cycle and commercial dishwashing detergent are used, city officials said.

Although Lincoln Street is part of Highway 101, a state Department of Transportation spokesperson said the city was taking the lead in the repair.

City Manager Nathan West will declare an emergency to expedite necessary contracting and repairs.