City closes one lane of South Montgomery after water main break

Starkville Utilities continues to work on a broken water main on South Montgomery Street (Photo by Logan Kirkland)
Staff Writer

City leaders have closed one lane on a high-traffic road after a broken water main on South Montgomery Street resulted in crews working into early Thursday morning to repair it.

The city notified the public Thursday afternoon it has closed one of the northbound lanes of South Montgomery Street between Lynn Lane and Locksley Way due to a “unstable roadway condition.”

This lane closure will remain in effect until late Friday morning. The Street Department will install a stabilized all-weather surface.

Both southbound lanes will remain open, but the traveling public is encouraged to use caution due to the uneven pavement conditions and the presence of loose material.

The city encourages all motorists to utilize alternate routes, especially during their morning commute and to expect delays and extended wait times.

Starkville Utilities General Manager Terry Kemp identified the cause of Wednesday’s broken main as a failed tap saddle, which is where a tap is made into the main line. In this particular case, it was feeding into a fire hydrant.

“Over time, we suspect what happened was that the movement of the earth and then (the main going) under a very heavily traveled street caused a strain or stress on that saddle, or that connection point,” Kemp said. “Then, the gasket failed and once it failed, that’s where the rupture started and that’s what caused the problem (Wednesday).”

Kemp said when crews first arrived, they assessed the area and attempted to minimize the flow of the broken 12 inch water main. He said the size of the main made it more difficult to handle, due to the volume of water.

Crews from Starkville Utilities arrived at the broken main before 1 p.m., finished filling the hole and the road was passable by Thursday morning.

Kemp said Starkville Utilities was able to successfully remove and repair the broken main by placing a new sleeve on top of the leak, resolving the problem.

Although the initial problem is fixed, Kemp said the affected area is currently under a boil water notice. He said his department is actively taking water samples and will send them to the Mississippi State Department of Health in Jackson for review. Results from the samples should be in by Saturday.

“If you lost water (Wednesday) night, as a precaution, you’ll be under the boil water notice,” Kemp said.

Kemp said he is unsure at this time as to what the cost of the repairs will be. He said right now, Starkville Utilities will conduct an assessment, and work with the street department to see how they want to address the whole area.

“With that much water, at that level of pressure, there was some asphalt failures,” Kemp said. “We will be working with them over the next several months to kind of assess and see what our next steps are on that.”

Kemp said crews began working Thursday to try and address some of the unevenness on the affected stretch of road. He said they need to let the area settle for it to become stable due to the amount of water it experienced.

“To get it to that point, you’ve got to get it cleaned and stabilized as best as we can,” Kemp said. “At this point and time I really can’t give you a timeline or exactly what that really looks like.”

As for addressing the infrastructure, Kemp said It’s one of the things his department is constantly thinking about and planning for.

“There really was no indication or warning that this was going to happen,” Kemp said. “We have no indication that anything else is going to happen anytime soon.”

On Wednesday night, Kemp said they worried about a surface collapse at first, which prompted officials to close both lanes, but the southbound lane was secured and was eventually safe to drive on.

“When emergencies happen then basically for the safety of the public and the workers, you just have to isolate it,” Kemp said.

Kemp said this is going to allow his department to further discuss how to handle future situations and thinks they may need to install more valves to help “isolate control”.

“Anytime an occurrence like this happens we take that opportunity to take a deeper look at our operating procedures and see if we could operate a little differently or respond to an emergency a little bit different,” Kemp said. “We’re always looking to improve.”