Water and ice are cleared from the Anthony Wayne Trail near Glendale after a water-main break.
Toledo’s harshest winter in the last two decades isn’t just affecting people and things above ground.
It’s wreaking havoc underground, as was evidenced with a 48-inch, water-main break that closed two major South Toledo streets at their intersections on Thursday.
“I’ve never seen [a winter] like this,” said Don Moline, the commissioner of customer service for the city’s utilities operations. The city’s underground pipes, he said, are “beaten up,” and the heavy use of deicing salt this year to keep major streets’ pavement clear contributes to underground problems by exposing pipes to subfreezing salt water seeping into the ground.
Both sides of the Anthony Wayne Trail were closed near Glendale Avenue from 4 a.m. Thursday until about sunrise, while the inbound lanes — which were closer to the broken pipe — remained blocked until midday and a single lane is expected to stay closed into next week.
Parts of Glendale also were closed most of the day.
Mr. Moline said the Glendale-Trail break was one of five water-main failures city crews handled Thursday.
The cause of the break has not been determined, a city spokesman said.
Lisa Ward, Toledo’s public information officer, said recent severe cold was an obvious culprit, but officials also plan to look into whether recent water main construction along Glendale, including ongoing work at the Trail, caused or contributed to the break.
“It’s one of the things we’ve started looking at,” Ms. Ward said.
Salt is spread on the Anthony Wayne Trail near Glendale Avenue in Toledo following a water main break. Northbound lanes in the area were closed to traffic as a result of the incident early Thursday.
But while the break caused water pressure to drop for many nearby customers, the only location where that reached problem status was at Harvard School, and Ms. Ward said service was restored there in time for classes.
Water from the broken pipe was first reported about 1:42 a.m., and Toledo police closed both sides of the Trail at 4 a.m. Frigid weather — the -1 low Thursday morning at Toledo Express Airport marked Toledo’s fourth straight day with a subzero reading — led to significant icing along the roadway.
Inbound traffic was diverted at South Detroit Avenue and detoured to South Avenue.
The Trail’s outbound lanes were reopened by 9 a.m., but only one inbound lane remained open late Thursday.
No time frame was given for when those inbound lanes would reopen, Ms. Ward said. Glendale was closed to through traffic between South Detroit and River Road until midday, after which it was closed only east of the Trail.
Permanent repairs to the remaining closed lane are unlikely before next week, Ms. Ward said, because that is the soonest city officials expect a local hot-asphalt plant to open to provide paving materials.
Hot-asphalt plants normally close for the winter, but city and Ohio Department of Transportation officials already had made arrangements for an emergency opening next week to tackle the worst of this winter’s bumper pothole crop.
“The hot patch is really the only way to seal it,” Ms. Ward said before adding, “If they’re going to have to cut into the Trail, at least this was before it was paved.”
Crews also are boring test holes in the area near the break to check for any washed-out spots beneath the roadway, the spokesman said.
Frost has now spread 40 inches below the surface beneath the plowed streets, where many of the pipes are, Mr. Moline said.
The Glendale-Trail break sapped utilities division manpower that otherwise might have been working Thursday on a backlog of 42 city water customers with frozen pipes, the customer-service commissioner said. Just one crew remained assigned to that task.
But a weather warm-up that forecasters say is on the way for Toledo next week could mean more broken pipes when thawing ground shifts, he said.
The only relief will occur when the cold weather stops.
Mr. Moline said: “Let it get warm and stay warm.”
Contact David Patch at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6094.