Workmen remove sidewalk bricks from the roadway, washed out during a water main break on Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Portland. The break happened at the corner of Forest and Congress Streets, right in front of the Maine Medical Center construction site. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — An underground water main burst in the middle of Congress Street, at the corner of Forest Street Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m.

The break was located directly in front of the large Maine Maine Medical Center construction site.

“It is on a 20 inch main and right now we are projecting to have it repaired by 10:30 p.m.,” said Portland Water District spokesperson Michelle Clements. “We are asking commuters to avoid the area to reduce congestion.”

Clockwise from left: Onlookers observe a water main break on Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Portland. The break happened at the corner of Forest and Congress Streets, right in front of the Maine Medical Center construction site; Cyclists ride through the break; A workman makes his way up the roadway. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Clements didn’t have immediate information regarding why the pipe broke or how many customers were currently being affected.

A torrent swept down Congress toward St. John Street with some of the water detouring onto Gilman Street, which pooled on Park Avenue.

Onlookers from nearby office buildings and the Saeng Thai House restaurant gathered on the sidewalk, watching the liquid avalanche carry sidewalk bricks yards down the roadway.

A car turns onto Gilman Street during a water main break on Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Portland. The break happened at the corner of Forest and Congress Streets, right in front of the Maine Medical Center construction site. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Construction workers took photos with phones from their perches above among the iron beams and lifts at the building site.

It’s not the first water mishap in Portland this week. Another water main burst on Monday, sending a jet of water high into the air at the corner of Washington Avenue and Presumpscot Street.

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.