Work is nearing completion on repairs to a busted water main that sent at least 20 million gallons of water surging onto the UCLA campus and the surrounding community Tuesday.
On Friday, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power crews removed a portion of the damaged pipe and sent to their main offices for further analysis. Work is continuing to repair damage to nearby Sunset Boulevard, where much of the flowed after the pipe rupture.
Meanwhile, the owners of some of the roughly 900 vehicles that became inaccessible when water from the broken pipe flooded Sunset and parts of UCLA began retrieving their rides today. But many others were forced to continue awaiting news of their vehicles’ fate.
Michael Lynch, a business analyst with UCLA’s transportation division, said nearly 400 cars that were deemed operable were towed from parking structures four and seven — which were flooded — to parking lot 39 at the south end of campus.
“We have been towing since 7 p.m. (Thursday) night,” Lynch said. “It is not the best situation to be in, that is for sure, but we are optimistic about it … We understand and are sympathetic with our customers and we are trying to make it as easy as possible for them.”
As many as 900 vehicles were stranded in the flooded structures following Tuesday’s rupture of a 93-year-old water main on Sunset Boulevard north of the campus. Millions of gallons of water gushed from the broken line, flooding streets and pouring into UCLA parking structures, buildings and athletic fields and the recently renovated Pauley Pavilion.
An unknown number of vehicles in the two flooded parking structures wound up completely submerged in murky water.
Lynch said water-damaged vehicles need to first be inspected by Department of Water and Power insurance adjusters before they are moved from the parking structures. He said he expects those vehicles to be moved in the coming days.
“That is based on when we can access the area and the health and safety conditions,” Lynch said.
Although many vehicles did not suffer any water damage, their owners were unable to immediately retrieve them because of environmental and structural concerns in the garages, caused both by the water and by exhaust from the equipment being used to pump the water out.
UCLA employee Stephanie Tarvyd, who picked up her undamaged car this afternoon, said that for the most part, she thinks the school is making the best of a bad situation.
“The process was maybe not as fast as I would have wanted it to be, but considering the situation, they did pretty well,” Tarvyd said. “The most frustrating part was not knowing if my car was actually okay. I knew where it was parked and it was possible that the water did turn that direction, but I didn’t know.”
Tarvyd said that without her car, she stayed home from work one day and then decided to utilize public transportation to get to campus. She said the school has been good about communication, sending her multiple progress emails about her vehicle.
Those looking for more information on their vehicle can visit transportation.ucla.edu.
People whose cars or other property were damaged can file claims with the Department of Water and Power, either online at www.ladwp.com/claims, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to the DWP’s Claims Section, P.O. Box 51111, Room 342, Los Angeles, CA, 90051.
As for Sunset Boulevard, the damaged area near UCLA is expected to remain closed as work continues today to repair the ruptured 30-inch main, which broke at a Y-shaped juncture with a separate 36-inch main.
The rupture blasted a 20-foot-wide sinkhole in the street, and crews have since excavated a much larger work area, roughly 56-by-41 feet.
Keith Session, assistant director of the DWP’s water distribution division, said that while the work site was being fully excavated and shored up to ensure the safety of welders, crews were working at DWP facilities to prepare fittings and pipes that would be used to fix the breaks.
“It is in our schedule to have the repairs in the water main completed on (no later than) Saturday morning and then we will start right at that time with the reconstruction of the street and the backfill of the trench,” Session said, adding that once the pipe repair is complete, it will take a “day or so” to fully fix the street.
While Sunset Boulevard remains blocked between roughly Veteran Avenue and Beverly Glen Boulevard, authorities suggested motorists use Wilshire, Santa Monica and Olympic boulevards as alternate routes, and encouraged motorists to carpool or telecommute.
The 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. It took until Wednesday night to completely halt the leaks so work could begin.
During the deluge, eight to 10 inches of water flooded UCLA’s famed Pauley Pavilion basketball court. The arena reopened about two years ago after undergoing a $136 million renovation project.
UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced today that Pauley Pavilion’s entire wood floor “will be replaced with a new state-of-the-art court.
“Factoring in order, delivery, acclimation and installation time, it is our expectation that the new floor will be ready for play by the end of October,” Guerrero said. “It is also our expectation that no regular season men’s or women’s basketball games will be missed as a result of the court replacement.”
The Teen Choice Awards, which were scheduled to be held at Pauley Pavilion on Aug. 10, have been relocated to the Shrine Auditorium, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Honors voted on by and for younger fans are set to be handed out there from 8 to 10 p.m.
Guerrero said a new floor will also be installed in the John Wooden Center, and it would be ready by early November. The university was still considering options for women’s volleyball matches that will be impacted by the work.
The Bud Knapp Football Complex and Acosta Athletic Complex will be ready for football practice in a few weeks, Guerrero said, and the Drake Stadium track-and-field complex has been restored to its original condition.
UCLA has begun a “crowdfunding” effort aimed at raising $1 million to help fund repair work needed due to the flooding. As of midday Friday, nearly $8,800 had been contributed.