Water pipe feeding L.L.Bean flagship store in Freeport breaks, closing Main Street

Posted Oct. 04, 2012, at 6:45 a.m.
Pumps drain standing water from a section of Main Street where a 100-year-old water pipe burst Tuesday, leaving L.L. Bean’s retail store without its primary fire sprinkler system for most of the day.
Pumps drain standing water from a section of Main Street where a 100-year-old water pipe burst Tuesday, leaving L.L. Bean’s retail store without its primary fire sprinkler system for most of the day.

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FREEPORT, Maine — A broken water pipe underneath Main Street ruptured early Tuesday morning, forcing the road to be closed from just north of Bow Street to Mill Street.

The town issued a news release advising “final repair work and paving may continue for several days.”

The fractured pipe was a six-inch cast-iron line feeding the primary fire suppression system in L.L. Bean’s flagship store.

According to Rick Knowlton, vice president of Maine Water Co., which operates Freeport’s water system, the pipe likely was one of the original ones in the town’s system, making it older than the town’s signature retailer itself.

Headquartered in Rockport, the utility manages drinking water systems for Freeport and 16 other municipalities in the state. Bean was the only shop affected by the break, Knowlton said.

“No other customers were out of water service,” Knowlton said. “It was just age that did it, we found no other explanation for why it broke. Without a problem on it, there really wouldn’t be a reason to replace it before today.”

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, a new section of pipe had been installed, the system flushed and reset, and the road above it was being put back together.

Traffic had to be shunted around the closure most of the day Tuesday, while excavators and heavy equipment from Brunswick contractor Ray Labbe and Sons Inc., ripped up pavement to get at the break.

Currents of water flowed along the northbound curb as workmen connected pumps and hoses to clear the water.

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