Gary bus company resembles scene from ‘Waterworld’
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/302-0949 January 9, 2014 5:06PM
L.V. Crawford, an Indiana Department of Transportation worker, removes a barricade Thursday to open up U.S. 20 at Old Hobart Road in Gary. The highway was closed Wednesday when pipes burst in a sprinkler system at the Illinois Central Bus Co. | Carole Carlson/Post-Tribune
Updated: February 11, 2014 6:29AM
GARY — Employees at the Illinois Central Bus Co. heard a “whoosh” sound Wednesday morning and when they traced the source to the garage, water was cascading from the ceiling.
It got worse as they tried to turn off the main water valve, because it had cracked and didn’t work after 10 frozen sprinkler pipes burst.
“Finally, Indiana-American Water came and we got the water shut off,” said Jamal Washington, spokesman for Illinois Central. Washington estimated the water was about 2 feet high.
The water flowed onto U.S. 20, causing the Indiana Department of Transportation to close the highway in front of Illinois Central at 7301 Melton Road on Wednesday afternoon. It reopened about 2 p.m. Thursday, but chunks of ice remained on the south side of the highway.
The problems came as the bus company was ramping up for the first day of school Thursday in Gary. School had been canceled all week because of subzero temperatures, which led to the frozen pipes.
Washington said the business lost heat before the pipes froze, and a section of the building lost electricity as well.
The water leaks and closure of U.S. 20 prompted the Charter School of the Dunes to remain closed Thursday, even though officials had planned to open.
“We were set to open. We were so excited,” said Danielle Sleight, the school’s co-founder and chief operating officer. “The chance of them shutting down our water was just too great. We couldn’t take the health risk with 500 kids in the building.”
The school, which is directly north of Illinois Central along U.S. 20 and Old Hobart Road, was not damaged by the water.