Broken water main disrupts subway

It was the wrong place at the wrong time. On the morning of November 3, around 5 a.m., a water main broke along Strathmore Boulevard, near Greenwood and Danforth Avenue. It caused commuter chaos during the worst time, rush hour.
The flood also impacted an important location, the Bloor-Danforth subway storage yard.
TTC spokesperson Kevin Carrington said that before service starts around 6 a.m., subway trains roll out of the yard and are evenly distributed throughout the line. That means when subway service starts, someone at Kipling station waits nearly as long as someone at Greenwood station to get a train.
The water main breakage delayed normal delivery of Bloor-Danforth subway service. He said that the water had only one place to go, and that was underground.
“There was some flooding at track level and some damage was done to the bus bay at Greenwood station,” he said. “As a result, we were unable to make full service on the Bloor-Danforth line.”
There was no subway service between Broadview and Woodbine stations for nearly three hours, but by 8:30 a.m., service was back to normal.
The water main on Strathmore Boulevard was constructed in 1966, and is much younger than water mains downtown. Newer, however, may not necessarily mean better.
Michael D’Andrea, director of water infrastructure management for Toronto Water, says the older water mains break less than their newer counterparts. Thick wall pipes and more ideal soils help maintain the water mains in older parts of the city, with some being over 100 years old.
Water mains constructed in the 1950s and ‘60s are the most problematic, as the city used a different type of cast iron called spun-cast. These pipe walls are significantly thinner than old cast iron mains.
But D’Andrea said that the broken water main near Greenwood Avenue is the first in the area.
“It’s in better shape than some of the other mains where we have repeated water main breaks,” he said.
The city is renewing its entire water and sewage infrastructure. There’s a backlog of $1.8 billion and a 10-year timeframe. D’Andrea said they’re following that path and increasing the year-over-year investment in water main renewal.
Construction on the Coxwell Sanitary Trunk Sewer Bypass began early this spring. A number of cracks along the portion near Coxwell Avenue and O’Connor Drive were discovered in 2008. The trunk route can’t be shut off because it carries a third of Toronto’s sewage.
A community meeting was held at the East York Civic Centre last Tuesday. General manager of Toronto Water, Lou Di Gironimo, said residents are most concerned about construction impacts.
“One of the (construction site) locations is close to homes,” he said. “So we’ve been working with the residents, trying to manage and lessen the impact while we are doing this work.”
A $29 million bypass will divert sewage around the damaged area. Gironimo says construction is a month behind, so the expected completion date is February to March of next year.
But they need to get the work done, he said.
“It is emergency work, we can’t forget that,” Gironimo said.  “The sooner we get it done, the sooner we can complete the repairs and protect the environment.”