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Water-main break offers MMS students extended weekend

Total Excavating employee Carl Heise was at the controls of an excavator used to expose a water-main break that occurred sometime Sunday along Ninth- near Hazel Street. Crews exposed the cracked main and patched it with a stainless steel sleeve. Steve Dzubay photo.1 / 2
A Total Excavating employee used a shovel to carefully tease mud and clay from the site of a cracked water-main, about eight feet beneath Ninth Street on Monday morning.2 / 2

The big chill that settled over River Falls this past weekend heaved the Ninth Street and prompting cancellation of Monday classes for Meyer Middle School students.

In the pre-dawn darkness Monday, a steady stream bubbled up through cracks in the street near the east curb and flowed in orderly fashion, down the block into a storm sewer.

By late morning Monday, River Falls Municipal crews with help from Total Excavating, River Falls, had slowed the water flow via a nearby valve and were ready to bolt on a stainless steel and rubber repair sleeve to seal the pipe.

City engineer and public works director Reid Wronski acknowledged that the break is at least the third to occur in the same block of Ninth Street in three or four years.

"It has been an area of issue in the past and we do have a (replacement) project scheduled there in 2016," he said.

The problem pipe -- six or eight inches in diameter -- was laid in the 1960's and would have been expected to have lasted longer, but Wronski said there have been "too many issues in a tight spot" so a replacement is on the drawing board.

A city employee on the scene said the frost line over the break appeared to be about four feet deep.

Water service to the school and surrounding neighbors was expected to be restored by early afternoon.

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