A stretch of Sunset Boulevard near UCLA will remain closed today as repairs continue to damage caused by the rupture of a 93-year-old 30-inch-diameter water main that sent an estimated 8 million to 10 million gallons cascading down the street and into the campus.
With Sunset Boulevard closed between Veteran and Hilgard avenues, authorities suggest using Wilshire, Santa Monica and Olympic boulevards as alternate routes, car pooling and telecommuting.
The UCLA campus will be open and classes will be held today, Chancellor Gene D. Block said. However, UCLA summer camps and the Fernald and Krieger childcare centers will be closed as will two parking structures.
At a briefing this morning near the site, officials said the sinkhole that resulted from the rupture measures about 20 feet in diameter and about five feet deep.
The problem involves a Y-shaped juncture of the 30-inch main with a 36-inch main, and at least two valves are still leaking this morning east of the site of the break, said Jeff Bray of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Repairs cannot be made until the water flow is stopped, Bray said.
No water service was interrupted to customers, and the water is safe to drink, he said.
About 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, water inundated the street and blasted a sinkhole in the roadway, with the water flowing into UCLA parking structures 4 and 7, which remain closed.
No injuries were reported, but a Los Angeles Fire Department swift-water team helped about five people out of the affected two underground garages, including some people who tried to retrieve their cars.
People who parked in the structures are encouraged to visit UCLA’s transportation website, transportation.ucla.edu, for status reports and information on how they can recover their vehicles.
Despite fire crews and university workers piling sandbags in front of entrances to UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, its floor and locker rooms “sustained significant flooding,” Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said, adding he will reassess the situation this morning and provide additional information at the appropriate time.
Mud and water also covered the university’s Drake Stadium — a track-and-field facility — along with the adjacent intramural athletic field.
According to the university, flooding also affected the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices; the George Kneller Academic Center; the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame; and the John Wooden Center.
The riveted steel water main, which carries water to the area from the Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir, ruptured on Sunset near Marymount Place just north of the campus shortly before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Department of Water and Power crews had reached the area through heavy traffic by 5 p.m. to turn off three valves before the flow could be stanched.
DWP announced on Tuesday night that the water was shut off by about 8 p.m. However, a reassessment this morning determined that water was still leaking through some valves located east of the break site, Bray said.
Reports from the scene indicated that at one point, as much as 36,000 gallons of water per minute was gushing from the pipe. DWP officials said the pipe normally carries water at a rate of 75,000 gallons per minute.
According to the mayor’s office, the water line dates back to 1921.
Dozens of people, likely UCLA students, gathered on the northern portion of campus to get a look at the growing flood, which drenched some walkways and turned stairwells into waterfalls. Some students could be seen with skimboards trying to take advantage of the flowing water.
Officials at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center said hospital operations were not affected by the break.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is in Michigan on vacation, said he was “closely monitoring the situation” and in contact with DWP, police and fire officials, and UCLA, “to make sure we are leading a closely coordinated response.”