A major artery in the heart of Philadelphia's Historic District could remain closed for at least two more weeks over concerns about a possible road collapse.
The stretch of S. 5th Street between Walnut and Chestnut streets is "severely undermined" and has been closed since Wednesday, Philadelphia Water Department spokesman John DiGiulio said. The street runs beside Old City Hall, which is attached to Independence Hall, and acts as a major artery to Interstate 676 and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
The water department inspected the street and determined that the cause of the issue might be a defective vent pipe, DiGiulio said. A vent pipe is a pipe in a plumbing system that connects to the outside and plays a crucial role in allowing a toilet to flush.
Verizon workers were the first to spot the problem as they were digging in the area, DiGiulio said.
According to DiGiulio, a street usually consists of three layers: asphalt, concrete and a bottom fill -- usually compacted soil or stone. As the Verizon workers dug, he said, they noticed large voids between the street's concrete layer and the fill, which prompted them to call the water department.
To prevent the possibility of a car collapsing into the street, the department made the decision to close off the stretch of road. "Eventually, something might have happened and we don't want that to be the case," DiGiulio said.
The water department will also conduct more inspections to rule out any other possible issues and then contact Verizon so that its workers can finish the work they were originally doing, DiGiulio said. After that, both the city water and streets departments will determine how to best repair and reopen the street, he said.