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Water main break closes 2 UW-Madison engineering buildings

Water main break closes 2 UW-Madison engineering buildings

A water main break Tuesday night caused “severe” flooding to two UW-Madison buildings, according to university police.

The break occurred outside about a half-block from the Engineering campus and traveled through steam tunnels into the Engineering Centers building, 1550 Engineering Drive, and the Materials Science and Engineering building, 1509 University Ave. Other buildings on the Engineering mall were not affected.

UW-Madison Police spokesman Marc Lovicott said Wednesday evening the extent of damage as well as the cause of the water main break were still being assessed.

A “limited” number of students enrolled in classes at those buildings were relocated to other facilities Wednesday, he said. Faculty were given limited access to assess damage to their labs.

The Engineering Centers building is expected to reopen Monday.

Faculty, staff and graduate students working in the Materials Science and Engineering building can expect to return Monday, but water supplies will remain limited, police said. Those seeking a bathroom, drinking fountain or sink will be directed to a nearby building. Classes in the building will be located elsewhere for about a month.

Maintenance staff worked Wednesday to repair heat to the buildings and athletics facilities nearby. Police expected heat to be fully restored Wednesday evening.

The flooding comes almost a year to the day after burst water pipes and other flood-related problems damaged 28 UW-Madison buildings. That event occurred a few days after a polar vortex plunged Dane County into a deep freeze followed by a rapid thaw.

The Chemistry Building was closed for weeks. Students, faculty and staff working in some floors of Vilas Hall were displaced for the entire semester.

University officials reported over the summer that damage to the 28 buildings cost an estimated $4.9 million.

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