Water main break creates mess at Red Lion & Verree

It was a beautiful morning on Monday, except at Verree and Red Lion roads. There, the day started out wet, muddy and irritating.

A water main break at about 6:30 a.m. flooded the intersection and loused up the first commute of the week for motorists who usually pass through the neighborhood on the way to work.

Police blocked off the intersection, and traffic coming off Bustleton into the other end of Verree was detoured over Greymont Street.

Verree Road residents who live between Red Lion and Bustleton shared in the soggy grief. They lost water pressure and it was almost impossible to drive out of their neighborhood. Even after 10 a.m., traffic was jammed.

And then, there was the mud left behind by the water that initially had pooled in the center of the block. Water usually runs to the middle of the block during heavy storms, resident Susan Levin said.

But what neighbors saw Monday was not usual.

Patricia Amelio-Ryan said her 2010 Dodge Challenger was in water up its doors. It’s easy to see why. Verree runs downhill from Red Lion and then, near Greymont, runs uphill toward Bustleton Avenue. The middle of the block is the bottom of two slopes, so water collects there.

Amelio-Ryan, Levin and Christopher Castagna said Philadelphia Water Department workers were on the scene within 90 minutes.

Philadelphia Water Department spokesman John DiGiulio said PWD first learned of the break at 7 a.m. Monday and had workers at the intersection at about 8 a.m. He said the main was shut down and the water stopped flowing by about 9:20 a.m.

Neighbors interviewed shortly after 10 a.m. Monday didn’t have any water in front of their properties, but they said the traffic snarls continued.

“You can’t get out of the neighborhood,” said resident Scott Deacon.

In the early evening Monday, DiGiulio told the Northeast Times that water pressure was restored and the main was repaired by 4:15 p.m. Monday and the crews were on the scene backfilling the street. He said PWD workers would clean up the mud.

The cause of the break in the main was not known Monday, but there have been other breaks near Verree and Red Lion roads on the same water main, DiGiulio stated in an email to the newspaper.

“PWD has recently completed the design work to replace this water main between Ferndale and Northeast Boulevard. In light of today’s break, we have been expediting the bid,” DiGiulio said.

Any customers whose properties were damaged by water from the break can call PWD’s customer service line at 215–685–9602, he said. “We will send a claims adjuster out to speak with them.”

The number of water main breaks changes constantly, DiGiulio said.

“There can be a week with zero breaks, and there can be a week with upwards of 50,” he stated.

Water temperature is a factor.

“The worst time of year for water main breaks is during the winter months, typically from December through March, when the water temperatures are consistently below 40 degrees,” he stated.

Anyone who sees a break can report it to PWD’s hot line, 215–685–6300. ••