PORTLAND -- Commuters will have to wait until next week before they can the eastbound lanes of the busy thoroughfare of West Burnside Street in downtown Portland, because crews said the ground is too wet and soft to complete repairs.

Repaving work was scheduled to begin around noon Wednesday but now it's been delayed until Sunday at the earliest. The ground turned out to be even more saturated than crews originally thought and it would be unsafe to pave over it now, according to Tim Hall with the Portland Water Bureau.

The water main break occurred under West Burnside Street at 4th Avenue early Tuesday morning, forcing a full closure of the busy roadway.

Late Tuesday, crews were able to open one lane of westbound traffic, but both eastbound lanes were still closed. Northbound traffic on Southwest 4th Avenue was getting detoured at Southwest Ankeny Street. TriMet bus lines 12, 19 and 20 were also detoured around the site.

Crews soon found that 36 feet of pipe showed signs of damage and had to be replaced.

It was a very large hole. That's a tremendous job, Hall said.

After the pipe is repaired, the road must be re-built over the top of it.

Nearly 33,000 vehicles travel along West Burnside Street in downtown Portland each day.

Flood damage to area businesses

Water from the break created pools nearly a foot deep along several streets. Crews shut the water off within half an hour, but not before the damage and electrical outages caused problems for area businesses.

Water poured into the basement of Embassy Suites, which houses the hotel's electric panels. The hotel turned on a backup generator, but it was not strong enough to power everything. Guests in 300 rooms had to be moved and the hair salon had no power or hot water.

The owner of Blue Collar Baking, in the same building as Embassy Suites, had to throw out all of the restaurant's perishable goods after the flood.

It's a huge hit, said owner Warren Becker, who owns Blue Collar Baking. I mean, for a small business person, I literally survive day-to-day.

Next door, the restaurant Portland Prime had to throw out all of its refrigerated food after its power was cut.

It's a day of lost wages for employees, said owner Frank Taylor. It's a day of lost revenues for the restaurant and just all over, it's sad.


KGW reporters Ashley Korslein and Mark Hanrahan contributed to this report.

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