East Exchange Street opened to traffic shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday after city work crews worked all day to repair a water main break below the busy downtown street.

City spokesperson Ellen Lander-Nischt said the water main installed in 1881 broke early Tuesday morning, flooding the street and closing the section of Exchange between Broadway and High Streets from rush hour through rush hour Tuesday.

Despite dating back to the presidential administration of Chester A. Arthur, the water main has held up, until now. “The 8-inch main at issue, while old, has had few reported issues over the years and has performed very well in the past,” said Lander-Nischt. “In other words, there were no indications that this line was going to fail.”

After two mild winters, subzero temperatures have preceded the bursting of old city pipes every week — sometimes twice a week.

Before the last thaw, two water mains broke Jan. 18, shutting down Grant Street near Interstate 76 and Wolf Ledges Parkway between Voris and South streets.

Less than a week later, a third break sent traffic around the intersection of Grant and East South Street as yo-yoing temperatures plunged again. That repair lasted through the weekend.

The Exchange Street break sent traffic on a bottlenecking detour north around a row of trucks and equipment. The day before, an Ohio Edison crew performed work below sewer grates on High Street. That night, observers saw the water start flowing.

Lander-Nischt said that a five-member crew and extra city staff worked on the project under the watch of two inspectors.

After using a backhoe to dig into the street, workers covered the Exchange Street hole with asphalt.

Reach Doug Livingston at 330-996-3792 or dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @ABJDoug on Twitter or www.facebook.com/doug.livingston.92 on Facebook.