PORTLAND -- Commuters will have to wait until Wednesday before they can use the eastbound lanes of West Burnside Street in downtown Portland, as the re-opening date continues to get pushed back.

The ground is already too wet and soft to complete repairs and more rain is expected this coming weekend.

The ground is very saturated and digging crews have also found old street car tracks and utility lines which slowed their work even more, 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 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 threw 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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