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A huge watermain break on 38th street prompts road closure, no water for surrounding area. Credit: Pete Lodato

A water main break at 38th Street and Woodland Walk Friday morning disrupted traffic in the area and affected the water pressure in many buildings on campus.

The main break flooded a stretch in University Avenue for around an hour. A man in a car was trapped in high water under a railroad overpass downstream from the break and was rescued, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Philadelphia Water Department has isolated the leak and is in the process of trying to reopen the lanes for traffic, according to Jennifer Rizzi, Facilities and Real Estate Services spokeswoman.

Barbara Lea-Kruger, Business Services spokeswoman said the traffic problems due to the water main burst might affect Penn Transit late Friday.

Many campus buildings experienced low water pressure or water shutdowns due to the break, according to an e-mail sent to residents of Rodin, Harnwell and Harrison college houses.

But "since they found the leak, water pressure is coming back to certain areas on campus,” said Dana Matkevish, Manger of Communications & Assessment for Housing Services.

Although maintenance crews are working to make repairs, some residences may still be without water, according to a second Housing Services e-mail. FRES is currently coordinating with schools and centers to restore water in all affected buildings, according to Rizzi.

At about 12:30 p.m., Penn's dining provider, Bon Appetit, wrote in an e-mail to meal plan holders that the break cut off water to 1920 Commons. The dining hall, as well as Starbucks, Yo-Reka, Subway and The Burger and Sandwich Stop, will be closed for the remainder of the day Friday and will reopen Saturday, repairs permitting. The UnCommon Market, however, will remain open "for shopping and take-out only," according to the Bon Appetit e-mail.

A DPS e-mail advisory was sent at about 10:15 a.m. about the water main break, advising students to avoid 38th Street and Woodland Walk. A second DPS advisory at about 3:00 p.m. said southbound lane closures of 38th Street will last at least two days, and may extend through Monday. 38th Street is currently closed between Spruce Street and Baltimore Avenue.

The e-mail also said crews are attempting to clear 38th Street's northbound lanes before rush hour Friday, "though this is not guaranteed." The Vare Avenue entrance to I-76 is also closed, and is expected to reopen by rush hour.

Many students were affected by the faulty water mains. Residents of Hamilton Court Apartments and the Kappa Alpha Theta chapter house on 39th Street, as well as residents of the Sigma Kappa house on Spruce Street, all made do without water this morning.

Different areas of the Quadrangle were impacted differently. College freshman Melissa Rosario, who lives in Riepe College House, said that her water was working normally all morning.

College freshman Jessie Ai said that the water was not working in most parts of Fisher-Hassenfeld College House. One of her friends had to walk “all the way to the other side of the Quad” in order to take a shower this morning. Ai added that water was working normally in Ware College House.

College sophomore Molly Roy was unaware of the water main burst until she tried to take a shower around 9:45 am in her Radian apartment.

She said there was nothing “but a drip” out of the shower, and there was barely enough water from the sinks for her to brush her teeth before she went to class.

When Roy returned to her apartment at 1:00 pm, she was relieved to find the water was working normally.

Update #1: A Housing Services e-mail sent at about 10:15 p.m. Friday confirmed that water was functioning properly in all residential buildings.

Update #2: The break underwent repair over the weekend and 38th Street was open again by Sunday morning, according to a DPS e-mail advisory sent at about 2:15 p.m. Sunday.

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