Dear PoP – Can Someone Explain This?


“Dear PoP,

As of ten minutes ago (ed note: received at 12:37 am) this was the scene outside my apartment at 17th and Crescent in Adams Morgan. Saturday morning a water main broke and took about 17 hours and change to fix from about 7 AM when work crews arrived until 11:30 PM when the water went back on and big metal plates were left to cover the street.

The past two nights private contractors (the trucks say “Flippo Construction”) have arrived around 7 PM to shut down the street and work on the giant hole in the middle of 17th. A neighbor has confirmed they are not there during the day, only at night.

Putting aside the fact there’s a generator and stadium lights outside my bedroom window, I’m compelled to ask, how is this cost efficient? This section of 17th has little traffic any time, but is downright dead during the day. Why wait until night and pay crews more, and pay for energy to run a generator for lights?”

This has to be because of traffic flow right? Can cars get around the hole during the day? If not why would they wait until evening to fix it?

13 Comment

  • If I had to guess, I’d say that they’re already too busy on other jobs during the day, especially since this is an unscheduled job involving emergency repairs.

  • Update: They were working still after 2 AM. A call to MPD Third District yielded nothing but instructions to call 911. If a car ever came, I was asleep and the guys had left. They finally packed up their jackhammers (seriousy! Jackhammers at 2 AM!) and pulled away shortly after 2:30. I’m just glad I’m traveling for work tonight and wish my neighbors better luck getting this stopped than I had last night. I think the commenter above is right that they’re too busy during the day, but aren’t there laws governing when you can do construction? What constitutes an emergency, anyway? Simply not having time during the day can’t.

  • A water main break constitutes an emergency… I would think you’d be more concerned about the crumbling infrastructure in this city and around the country that causes the loss of life when it ultimately fails. It’s ashame that you have to lose sleep over this and all, but put it in perspective, one week. You could have lived in the building that burned a couple years ago right around the corner from there… excessive damage occurred because of inoperable fire hydrants. We should hold the government more accountable all the time, not just when it inconveniences you.

  • I know from living near a construction site in the West End that legal construction hours are 7 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday (or at least they were about 3 years ago) but as others have noted, it might be an emergency and then I’m not sure.

  • just a crazy thought here, but has anyone actually reached out to the DC Water and Sewer Authority and simply ask them what’s going on? instead of just complaining about it?

    Phone: 202-787-2000 (M-F 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
    Water and Sewer Emergency Number (24 hour): 202-612-3400

    having been through the excitement several times of water main breaks, once DCWASA goes into the ground, repairs can become much more extensive than they had hoped for as they often do more than just make a quick repair, they’ll make more complete repairs to replace old pipes and valves to help make sure that the break doesn’t happen again.

    we enjoyed street disruptions for several months as one major repair ended up continued on as DCWASA waited on a 125-year-old valve to be custom built.

  • I have no explanation ,but I did want to send “get well soon” wishes to the Prince. Feel better!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Hahaha. Thanks 20something. I’m pretty wrecked and am almost finished blogging for the day after which I plan on nyquil and passing out for a few hours…

  • I wish my neighborhood was quiet enough that the only concern was omg they’re fixing water lines and i can’t sleep.

  • I live on this street as well, but I have a little different perspective. Saturday morning the main burst, with the usual big hole in the road and water running down the street. The contractor showed up not long after and knocked on everyone’s doors to let them know what was up and to ask them to move their cars if they could so they’d have room to work and cars wouldn’t get scratched or dirty. The team then spent at least 12 hours in cold, rainy weather tearing up the street and replacing the line, including one frustrating episode where they thought they had it fixed, recharged the line, and it burst again. I don’t know what time they actually finished but they did a great job of putting in the temporary steel plates so that they were even and didn’t rattle — I wish the recent work on Florida nearby had been done as well. After the day those guys had I would have put up a sign that said “Caution, giant hole” and just left it as a Viet Cong tiger trap for drunk people and called it a night, but they finished the job right. I haven’t talked to them about the current work but the manhole down the street has been running clear water all week so I’m guessing there was still a leak.

    I don’t know why the current work is going on at night, though when I get home I think I might ::gasp:: ask them. You could also talk to ANC rep Kathie Boettrich, whose front door is about 30 feet from the hole.

    Re: POP’s questions about cars getting by, it would be zero problem logistically to do it during the day, people would have to drive the wrong way up 17th to get to about 15 residences but about 10% of the traffic on the road is people going the wrong way anyway.

  • Anon: I don’t think we have a different perspective, at all. I too appreciate the work done on Saturday. For the record, the water went on about 11:30 PM, 17 hours after the first workers got there. They did a great job, and I have no beef with them, whatsoever.

    But the rain stopped on Saturday. It’s been unseasonably warm this week, and as I previously mentioned, and as you confirmed, 17th between Crescent and Kalorama has next to no traffic on a busy day. It would inconvenience two dozen people at the max, who are used to having their parking inconvenienced by bar patrons in Adams Morgan and the Meridian Center. It’s no big deal.

    As for ::gasp:: “asking,” well, I went to PoP. I don’t know who ANC rep Kathie Boettrich is, and I thought maybe this blog would be a good place to find answers. Thank you. I’ll look up ANC rep Kathie Boettrich and ask first why it makes economic sense to do this work at night instead of during the day when this street is actually less busy, and second, why it’s acceptable to do this work at 2:30 in the morning at all, after the emergency has been dealt with four days earlier. I really can’t believe you’re not coming down on the right side of this. Seriously. Jackhammers at 2:30 in the morning when they wasted 3 perfectly fine weekday afternoons not doing this work really makes no sense, no matter how great a job they performed Saturday.

    As for her 30 feet, I’d have given anything for 30 feet last night. That picture was from my bedroom window. That hole is literally ten feet from where I try to sleep at night. But a coworker put it perfectly today–DC has to go out of their way to piss you off. That’s the only way you can tell they’re doing anything. That and parking tickets.

  • Sameanon here. OK, gloves off: were you or were you not the one screaming profanities at the hardworking guys trying to do their job last night? What were you trying to accomplish by that? Did you call 311 before you did that? WASA? Maybe try dealing with them nicely first? If you seriously think anyone was enjoying being outside your bedroom window with a jackhammer, you need to log some time on a jackhammer.

    Kathie’s a nice lady, no need to look her up really, her house is at the right edge of your picture. The one next to the one with all the bikes. But maybe try WASA first. Or email Jim Graham at [email protected] — he’s not only your council member, he’s also the chair of public works and transport. Jim will almost always get back to you within 24 hours, if you’d taken the time to email or call him rather than whining to your poor coworkers or emailing PoP you’d probably have an answer right now as to why these repairs were done at night.

  • …by the way folks, the DC Water and Sewer Authority is NOT part of the District Government; in 1996, the DC Government initiated the creation of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DCWASA), a semi-autonomous regional entity.

    In addition, DCWASA’s finances are not part of the District’s overall budget; funding for operations, improvements and debt financing now comes through user fees, grants and the sale of revenue bonds.

    finally, you gotta a question? call 3-1-1. they’ll answer it.

Comments are closed.