A break in a 20-inch water line sent water gushing to the surface of West Jones Street just before 3 a.m. It took public utilities workers four hours to cap the main.
The force of the gushing water had already caused parts of the street to lift and buckle. Officials said the road and sub-grade will have to be dug out and replaced.
The city block that runs in front of the state Legislature and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences -- between Salisbury and Wilmington streets -- is closed. Jones Street from Wilmington to Salisbury streets will remain closed to traffic through the Labor Day holiday weekend.
"I don't think there's ever a good place for a water leak, but I can't think of much of a worse place," water superintendent Andy Brogden said.
A detour has been established to route traffic around the closed section of Jones Street. Motorists are advised to take Salisbury Street south from Jones Street to Morgan Street, east on Morgan Street to Wilmington Street and then north on Wilmington Street back to Jones Street.
The Museum of Natural Sciences closed around 12:30 p.m. Thursday. It will operate on its regular schedule Friday.
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