Clairmont Road reopens partially as repairs continue after water main break

Staff writer Mike Morris and photographer John Spink contributed to this article.

Two lanes — one northbound and one southbound — opened late Thursday afternoon on a heavily traveled DeKalb County road that closed Wednesday because of a water main break.

A complication with repairs to the ruptured water main on Clairmont Road in Brookhaven delayed its complete reopening, authorities said.

The remaining lanes and turn lane remained closed late Thursday between I-85 and Century Center, a stretch of road that runs northwest of the interstate.

DeKalb County Watershed crews expect to have the break repaired sometime Thursday night, Brookhaven officials said.

A steady flow of water gurgled up from beneath cracks all over the stretch of road that runs the width of the five lanes following the break early Wednesday afternoon.

Just before 6 a.m. Thursday, a new section of 30-inch pipe arrived at the site to replace the broken pipe.

DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said Thursday that 200 to 300 customers, including a nearby Holiday Inn Express hotel, were without water.

Bob Webb was one of the guests with Wednesday night reservations at the Holiday Inn Express.

Webb said when he arrived at 4 p.m., he found traffic in the area snarled and was told he couldn’t get to the hotel because of the closed road.

He made his way to the hotel by winding through a nearby construction area, and decided to stay despite the water problems.

“I’d rather live without water than face their traffic out here,” said Webb, who is from Fairhope, Ala. “I bypass Atlanta whenever I can, and 4 o’clock in the afternoon is no time to be here. I would have stayed there without electricity.”

While some guests left and went to other hotels, the lack of water “wasn’t that bad,” he said, adding that he went to a nearby store “and bought a 5-gallon bottle of water and flushed the toilets and everything’s OK.”

“Things happen and you’ve got to learn to bounce around it a little bit,” Webb said.

DeKalb Watershed officials didn’t know the cause of the break, but Brennan said there is a chance the broken pipe may have been due to be switched out.

“We’re in the middle of a $1.35 billion water/sewer upgrade,” he said. “Some of the pipes DeKalb has are up to 50 years old. We’re not sure yet the age of this particular pipe, but it may need to be replaced anyway.”

State and local officials were on hand during Thursday’s morning rush hour to help commuters negotiate what is normally a heavily traveled route.