Breaking down the water main break, questions answered from Director of Facilities Management

Last Wednesday, a water main occurred outside of Canisius College on Main Street that caused many delays in traffic and the Delavan-Canisius subway station to flood. The Griffin spoke with facilities officials on the break:

Water floods Main Street on Wednesday, Jan. 22, causing issues at Canisius as well as at the NFTA metro station nearby (Will Vega/The Griffin)

By Abby Wojcik and Jenna French

A water main break occurred last Wednesday night on Main Street in front of Canisius College, causing a car accident, traffic jams and flooding to the Delavan-Canisius metro subway station. 

The issues began last Wednesday night with intense flooding from the fire hydrant in front of the Forest Lawn Cemetery office building. The water ran down Main Street and Jefferson Avenue, making it nearly impossible to drive through.

Canisius students residents, as well as local residents in the area, experienced their water shutting off or not running as smoothly as normal.

“Later that night the water in Dugan just kinda went out,” said sophomore Liana Posella, who lives in Dugan. “So, we couldn’t use the sinks, any of the sinks, and showers just turned off. I know one of my friends was showering and it just kinda turned off on her. Then you couldn’t flush the toilet either. So it was kind of a gross mess.”

Traffic was reduced to one lane in both directions to accommodate the City of Buffalo Water Authority as they started construction on Main Street. The Delavan metro station was closed due to the water flooding the tracks where the trains run.

Director of Facilities Management Tom Ciminelli said that there is only speculation surrounding the reason as to why this water main break happened. 

“The below average snowfall this winter has been good for us from the standpoint of not having a lot of snow to remove, Ciminelli explained. “However, the changes in temperature from below freezing to above freezing results in multiple freeze thaw cycles, which causes the ground to heave. The result is that things below the ground tend to shift and move. This may have contributed to the pipe break on Main Street.”

Robert J. McCarthy and Keith McShea of The Buffalo News cited the incident as “the most serious disruption to Metro Rail service in the transit line’s history.”

They reported that the Buffalo Fire Department aided the efforts to remove the water with inflatable boats to help NFTA reach the pump area. The metro station reopened at 5 a.m. on Monday.

There are two water mains that are located on Main Street, which are connected to some of Canisius’ facilities. Ciminelli said when the water pressure is high, the facilities team performs different tasks to protect the campus from damage. 

“Other than the massive amounts of water in the street and the closing of the metro station, we fared well through this event,” Ciminelli said.

There was also a car accident in front of Main Street and Humboldt Parkway which Canisius Public Safety assisted Buffalo Police with.

“That made it even worse down there,” Public Safety Officer Lt. Richard Miller said. “We actually had to close one lane of traffic.”

Because of all this, many Canisius students and faculty members experienced troubles and delays getting to campus this week.

“It did slow me down a little bit. There was traffic stopped up, and the construction obviously,” senior Miriam Trojanovic said. Walking into school looking at the sidewalks, the curb, where the drains are, which are right by the crosswalk, those are all beaten up now; they’re crumbling, it’s messy.”

Ciminelli said the college is actively working with authorities to make upgrades to the infrastructure in the area, but these plans require government funding, which takes time and patience.

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