UPDATE: Water break closes 35th SW south of Avalon for 11 hours; privately owned line to blame, SPU says

(5:41 AM UPDATE: 35th now reopened both ways)

6:18 PM: Thanks to everyone who’s been messaging us about what they’re describing as gushing water on the road at 35th/Avalon on this rainless night. We are on the way over to find out more.

6:34 PM: This is BIG water gushing from southbound 35th just south of Avalon. SFD is here and closing 35th between Avalon and Alaska. Avoid the area.

6:44 PM: Firefighters have also closed the sidewalks to keep people far away – they’re worried this could lead to a big sinkhole in the street. SPU has arrived. We have a message out to find out what more they know. We also hear there’s low water pressure at some residences nearby.

7:05 PM: This is going to go on a while. Full complement of utilities here now – Puget Sound Energy (there’s been concern about natural-gas odor around the KFC), Seattle City Light, as well as SPU. Again, 35th is blocked off between Alaska and Avalon, but before that happened, here’s video from @jetreset showing how it looked when a C Line bus went through the water (which is right by the southbound stop on 35th):

7:23 PM: Just talked with SPU spokesperson Andy Ryan. He says what broke is a 4-inch “service line” that belongs to the adjacent apartment building (which would be Aura) – “it’s not city infrastructure.”

The building is only a year old.

Ryan added, “We have the water main shut down between Avalon and Manning while crews look for the water shutoff valve.” Repairs might not be complete before midnight, he says.

7:43 PM: Buses have been rerouted for a while since the road remains closed (and the water’s still bubbling up on the southbound side), but here’s the official Metro reroute alert just texted/tweeted:

7:55 PM: The water’s not off yet, but the volume is down. Kevin tells us water service is off to the south of here, too, near 36th/Edmunds.

8:14 PM: Water’s down to a trickle.

SFD has left, but SPD is still at the scene to keep the road closure enforced. We’ve left for a while but will keep checking on the status of the road – and we’ll start our morning traffic coverage earlier than usual with word on whether that section of road is open or not.

10:07 PM: Street’s still closed, and heavy equipment’s now at work digging:

SDOT quotes SPD via Twitter as saying the closure will continue “until tomorrow morning.” No police left at the scene for us to ask in person – just the work crew. We’ll check the scene again in the very early hours.

4:59 AM: Back at the scene. 35th is still closed south of Avalon. Crews still at work.

5:16 AM: Northbound traffic is now being allowed through the area. Southbound still blocked by crews.

5:41 AM: They’ve just removed the barricades on the southbound side and traffic is now going both ways.

53 Replies to "UPDATE: Water break closes 35th SW south of Avalon for 11 hours; privately owned line to blame, SPU says"

  • Trickycoolj December 4, 2017 (6:23 pm)

    Called SPU they’re aware

    • WSB December 4, 2017 (6:24 pm)

      Thanks for that. I will be calling the media line.

    • Mark M December 6, 2017 (1:53 pm)

      now there is a giant pothole that has been asphalted over I guess people can drive over it now and waste a tire or rim?  These contractor outfits need to be checked on their street repairs so they don’t just get away without restoring to correct standards after they dig. 

  • Snoop December 4, 2017 (6:43 pm)

    That is right at the road patch they put in during some utility work for KFC last week.

  • Kate December 4, 2017 (6:55 pm)

    We are just east of 35th on avalon and building has extremely low water pressure

  • Paul December 4, 2017 (6:59 pm)

    You could definitely see the road buckling where the water was coming out.  I realized my helplessness as I drove by within a few feet.  I guess all those hours of watching the weather channel telling you to not drive through ponding water never sank in.

  • Daniel December 4, 2017 (7:21 pm)

    I was there before they closed it off, most people were driving thru it but it was quite deep and looked really dirty (like sewage) so I turned around in my sedan to avoid it. By the time I came back from the other direction it was closed off already. 

    And Trader Joe’s is still closed! West Seattle is getting hit by the weirdness this week.

    • WSB December 4, 2017 (7:26 pm)

      It is – something of a utility-pocalypse. I just talked with SPU’s communications director & am adding new info above.

    • JanS December 4, 2017 (8:49 pm)

      Mercury is Retrograde….lol…weirdness    hehehehe. This sucks. My
      first thought was something to do with the new build. Did they cut corners, I wonder. I feel bad for the residents there., and surrounding area.Temps in mid 30’s at night, so hope it gets
      fixed quick. Just drive carefully , as it might get slick out there. :( 

  • KB December 4, 2017 (7:23 pm)

    Any updated info re the possible natural gas issue? Wondering if it’s a safety issue for friends who live nearby.

    • WSB December 4, 2017 (7:27 pm)

      SFD is standing by and PSE showed up but no problem found that we can see – in fact I went back into the KFC for a warm place to type.

  • Swede. December 4, 2017 (7:52 pm)

    Quality construction there. Almost made it a whole year! The saying ‘Do you want to pay now, or pay later’ comes to mind. My guess the amount they saved by slapping that building and apparently surrounding systems together will be lost in having to repair the road now. With all the busses running there it’s not exactly just slapping some asphalt over it…

    • Mark December 4, 2017 (9:43 pm)

      Considering that the 151 parking spaces originally proposed[1] were scaled back to almost nothing (it turned into 3 or 4 “future resident parking” spots, IIRC), I’m speculating that finances were indeed an issue.  I’m not too surprised that the service line is [was] sub-par.

      [1] https://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/west-seattle-development-work-begins-at-4435-35th-sw/

      • Diane December 5, 2017 (12:15 am)

        what???  the link you shared shows it has 151 parking spaces; where do you see it does not?  where do you see “it turned into 3 or 4 future resident parking spots”?

        • Mark December 5, 2017 (7:14 am)

          Oops, you’re right.  I just looked it up on apartments.com and see there is underground parking available.  For some reason I thought I read somewhere that there wasn’t (and I see the future resident tiny parking area daily from 35th).

  • L. Bui December 4, 2017 (8:03 pm)

    I drove through it before it closed.  I noticed the broken asphalt and it occurred to me that this might end up being a bad idea.  Fortunately, I drove home just in time to witness a guy yelling his head off at a driver with disabled vehicle.  Let me tell you that was a sight to see.  The animated anger and jumping–just like Mr. Dithers in the Blondie and Bumstead comic.

  • Sarah December 4, 2017 (8:07 pm)

    Here is a pic of the sink hole. Appears the water is shut off at least.

  • More To Come December 4, 2017 (8:07 pm)

    Power outages and broken water lines or backed up sewage will be constant and the new norm. You see just tearing down single family dwellings or old car lots with one or two bathrooms and then building multi unit establishments isn’t just cut and dry. West Seattle is not capable of handling the massive increase in public utilities needed at all of these developments 

    • West Seattle since 1979 December 4, 2017 (8:44 pm)

      This wasn’t a problem with public utilities. This was a problem with the apartment building’s sewage system. Probably the developers used cheap materials that weren’t made for a large building like that. 

      • WSB December 4, 2017 (8:56 pm)

        Just to be clear, apartment water line, not sewage line.

    • AJP December 5, 2017 (9:55 am)

      We must be really really really sub-par to begin with then. Funny how most all of Europe and the East Coast of this country, not to mention the old cities in Latin and South America, Asia, and Africa have managed to put modern utilities and buildings in places where humans have been dwelling for hundreds and even thousands of years. 

  • Mike December 4, 2017 (8:16 pm)

    And with freezing temps tonight, we can skate on it tomorrow morning.

  • Diane December 4, 2017 (8:29 pm)

    re: Ryan added, “We have the water main shut down between Avalon and Manning while crews look for the water shutoff valve.”; yikes, sounds like I lucked out living just one block north of Manning; grateful our water NOT shut off

  • Justme December 4, 2017 (8:37 pm)

    Must have been a non-union job.

    • Luke December 5, 2017 (5:34 am)

      Justme, you know it wasn’t 32 hands!

  • KD December 4, 2017 (8:48 pm)

    From the first video, the humorous irony of  ‘The Water Taxi’ waiting just before the huge water pool… Yah! No Kidding!! (Too bad couldn’t become a ‘water taxi!)

    • WSB December 4, 2017 (8:55 pm)

      That was the first thing I noticed when we first arrived in the area and luckily it was still there after we parked and walked across the street.

  • Dh December 4, 2017 (8:49 pm)

    Just drove thru five points east of the Chelan. WSP, SPU, and SPD were setting up a large tanker to do something. Any info…?

    • WSB December 4, 2017 (9:17 pm)

      Nope, sorry. Will be heading back for a look at the scene before 10 pm, will let you know if we see a tanker doing anything. (Or if anyone reading this with eyes on the site can look?)

    • Dan December 4, 2017 (9:30 pm)

      Tanker? Like a cement truck or fuel truck?

  • Trickycoolj December 4, 2017 (9:34 pm)

    Wow we just went through it when it started based on the later videos now that we have just gotten home. Definitely was only pooled at the storm drains when I called SPU and texted WSB. We drove through one of the lanes where the pavement was bubbled up with the water spewing out the cracks. So bizarre to see all the standing water coming down 35th from above. That wait do you see that, it didn’t rain today moment in the car was surreal. 

    • WSB December 4, 2017 (9:47 pm)

      Thanks as always for the alert. Texts generally don’t show associated names so we seldom know who to thank unless the text is “signed”!

  • Dude December 4, 2017 (11:01 pm)

    Expect to see more instances like this as these get-rich-quick, corrugated boxes they call buildings continue to pop up, especially with cold weather arriving. This is the consequence of cheap, corner-cutting developers squeezing every penny out of these lots while city inspectors are spread too thin. It’s one thing to do a mediocre job on your private property when buildings are spread out, it’s different when the city changes zoning allowing for crowded and divided lots. When they cut corners they affect those around them, whether it be bad utility connections, endless potholes from continually tearing up roads, landslides from clearings, and bad fire retardant materials.

     But I’m sure West Seattle’s own Gary Merlino doesn’t mind, more road for them to redo. Rant over

    ***I may be a tad bias toward these boxes since I’ve lived in WS my whole life. Could they at least add a little character?

  • Calires December 5, 2017 (1:20 am)

    This makes me grateful that the stretch of California in front of my house that was ripped up 4 times in ~2 years to accommodate the additional 30 units next door was mainly confined to the parking lane.   I am curious to know whether the same company did the work there – seems like one company does a lot of the sewer/water lines for demo/re-develop in West Seattle.  I’ve got lots of pictures of their “work” as it was being done.  And done over again.  And done over again.  And done over again.

  • Enid December 5, 2017 (6:40 am)

    Seattle has a bizarre policy of considering sewer lines the sole responsibility of the property owner, from the house to under the street and all the way to the main line in the street.  I don’t know what happened in this case, but with all of the increased traffic, streets in terrible condition, and construction everywhere, it’s ridiculous that homeowners have complete responsibility – but no control at all – over what happens on the public right of way above the sewer line.  A logical approach would be that the City be liable for anything in the public domain.

    • WSB December 5, 2017 (7:04 am)

      Again, this was not a SEWER break – it was a water break.

  • Peter December 5, 2017 (7:53 am)

    Bus drivers didn’t know what to do and weren’t getting any direction from Metro. Metro completely screwed up their response to this. I ended up walking two miles because the driver of the 21 was clueless. I’m utterly disgusted with Metro. 

    • WSB December 5, 2017 (8:03 am)

      The alerts – at least the ones sent to the public via text and tweet – did take a while. Last night, the tweet is timestamped 7:38 pm, more than an hour after we started getting texts and calls (I tweeted at 6:19 pm); then this morning, it was a little more timely, though at one point the alert said buses were still being rerouted, when I was staring right at the intersection and it was open both ways. Perhaps some info-flow work is warranted.

  • smittytheclown December 5, 2017 (7:55 am)

    All this whining about non union jobs and cheap construction – don’t all buildings have to meet “codes” of some kind?  Maybe codes and/or inspections need to be looked into?

    • AMD December 5, 2017 (8:54 am)

      Codes and inspections can’t always find cheap materials, or ones that have hidden flaws from the manufacturing process (for all we know they spent the money to have it done right but there was a manufacturing irregularity in a part that caused it to fail).

      But, yes, there are codes and an inspection process to make sure lines are buried deep enough to withstand freezing, are connected appropriately, etc.  And those codes do take into account the use of the infrastructure so I’m not sure why people are complaining about zoning (besides the fact that any thread is apparently an invitation to complain about development and SDOT).  Zoning is not what caused the pipe to fail.

  • face less December 5, 2017 (8:15 am)

    why is this a private utility line???? The city allowed this???

    • WSB December 5, 2017 (8:25 am)

      It’s a private utility line in the same sense that your home has a private utility line going to the main in the street. Nothing unusual (aside from the fact it broke). And yes, we’ll be following up today …

  • John December 5, 2017 (8:19 am)

    Many ignorant and false  assumptions being expressed without any information regarding the water line issue.  The SPU fees for hooking up to the main run into the tens of thousands of dollars and require design, testing and inspections by both independent engineers and multiple layers of city inspectors. 

    • West Seattle since 1979 December 5, 2017 (10:34 am)

      Thank you.  That’s good to know.  Sorry I assumed earlier.

    • seaopgal December 5, 2017 (10:58 am)

      And yet it still failed within one year.

      • WSB December 5, 2017 (11:00 am)

        I don’t know if I’ll be able to get a comment from the building’s owner but will try. But keep in mind, there is a RapidRide stop right in front of the building, and those buses in particular have caused road problems in multiple places – 26th SW near Westwood Village and SW Edmunds near Uptown Espresso among others.

  • Busrider December 5, 2017 (8:25 am)

    The sidewalk northbound south of the bus stop is a muddy mess. Be careful if heading to c line. The road pavement northbound south of the bus stop doesnt look good either…may sink soon. 

  • Enid December 5, 2017 (10:27 am)

    Sewer lines and water supply lines are subject to the same rules, in that the property owner is responsible for the line all the way to main in the street.  This includes all right of way, including the sidewalk and portion of the street, well beyond the property line.  I know several people who have had utility/street/sidewalk work adjacent to their property, and when water or sewer lines were damaged as a result, the city handed them the bill – insisting, against all common sense, that the damage was not caused by them. 

  • Tom December 5, 2017 (2:19 pm)

    We own a rental house in Gatewood that developed a leak in the water supply line between the main and the meter.  SPU said it was plastic from several decades ago that subsequently has developed service life problems.  They replaced it with copper, no charge.  This led me to believe that SPU is responsible for the water supply line from the main to the meter.  It may be different for a large supply line to a multi-unit building. 

    On the other hand, for sewers, we know from experience that the owner is responsible for the side sewer all the way from the house to the main, even under the street.

  • Steve December 6, 2017 (2:46 pm)

    Where’s Aquaman when you need him?! Sheesh!

  • Paul December 8, 2017 (7:32 pm)

    Seattle Public Utilities is responsible for water service lines from the water main to the city union. The “union” is a fitting (past the meter) to which the property owner connects their water pipe. On an improved street, the union is usually located one foot past the sidewalk (on the house side). On a unimproved street, it can vary in length. Services to large buildings, on the other hand, typically require large utility vaults. The union point is often just outside the footing to the building or the just outside of the vault.

Sorry, comment time is over.