Traffic along Ventura Boulevard (in an already trafficky part of Studio City) was completely halted last night and this morning, while city workers scrambled to repair two giant, ruptured water mains that were flooding the busy street at Whitsett Avenue and Lankershim Boulevard.

That chaos carried on until noon today, when a single lane was able to be reopened. And the Department of Water and Power doesn't estimate the rest will open until about 10 p.m., well after rush hour.

Obviously, somebody failed.

The Department of Water and Power is notorious for full-time politicking — officials beg for rate hikes to cover new solar-power requirements, despite the fact that their coffers are some of the healthiest in the city, and union leaders go to insane lengths to preserve the bloated pensions of undertrained DWP employees.

Credit: Los Angeles Times

Credit: Los Angeles Times

This, while a frightening underworld of decaying city pipes and infrastructure goes unattended beneath our feet/tires.

The small glimpse of chaos we got along Ventura Boulevard over the last 20-odd hours is only the tip of the iceberg.

Here's the DWP's excuse today:

“While the cause of the break is not known at this time, the LADWP water system typically experiences an increase in water main breaks in fall and winter months due to colder water entering the distribution system from the Eastern Sierra Nevada. The colder water causes the pipes to shrink very slightly, known as thermal contraction, which can cause some pipes to break. For more details, please view our fact sheet on cold weather main breaks here.”

But these are only the first of the 2011-12 rains — they're bound to get colder as the winter wears on. The real question is: What could city planners have done, in anticipation of an inevitable weather change, to avoid this costly cleanup effort and plague on L.A. commuters? Related: Why hasn't this foot-in-diameter water main beneath a major Los Angeles roadway been reinforced since freaking 1929?

“About 74 residential customers and 21 commercial customers were without water service Tuesday,” reports the Los Angeles Times. [Update: DWP officials tell us service was restored around 2:30 p.m.] Those high-and-dry Angelenos, along with hundreds of drivers, have the city's most dysfunctional monopoly to thank.

Before we go, here's one more KTLA video still of the DWP making it rain:

Cute shit. Follow @ladwp for updates on the break.


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