City-county utility officials say there’s no quick fix in store for repairs on Bethabara Road in northwestern Winston-Salem, where broken water lines caused a deep sinkhole to form and led to two auto wrecks early Monday morning.
After hoping to complete repairs by the end of the business day on Tuesday, officials now can’t say exactly when the water line repairs will be finished, let alone when the reconstruction of the damaged section of roadway will start.
“Don’t expect it to open anytime soon,” cautioned Gale Ketteler, the public information officer for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities, adding that the road is “closed indefinitely between Old Town Road and Silas Creek Parkway.”
The breakage affected two water lines: a big 24-inch line that carries large volumes of water for eventual distribution, and a smaller 12-inch line that serves customers in the neighborhood.
Utility workers have been able to restore water service to everyone because of the way water lines are networked: Workers can close off the broken part of a line and still provide customers with water through the line’s other connections.
In the case of the large line, workers are having a challenge isolating all the leaks, said Courtney Driver, the utility director.
“We have to get the water stopped — then bring a lot of stone and material back in,” Driver said. As work proceeds, she said, utility crews also hope to learn what may have caused the failure that washed out part of the roadway and forced the closure.
The break occurred where Bethabara Road crosses Monarcas Creek. Before the roadway could be closed, two drivers wrecked their cars because they could not see the sinkhole in time while driving in the darkness shortly before 2 a.m. Monday. There was no serious injury.
The line breakage caused nine schools to experience low pressure or no pressure, but service to the schools was restored quickly on Monday.