A collapsed, decades-old sewer main forced immediate repairs, closing a busy two-block stretch of Main Street in downtown Beacon.

A project supervisor on scene told Spectrum News on Monday that his workers have begun digging toward the main, which could be between 22 and 24 feet below street level.

"I call it 'The Big Dig,' " laughed Bob Nevelus, who owns the Beacon Falls Cafe, located near the sewer main break at Main Street and Tioronda Avenue. "When you have raw sewage 25 feet underground, coming up to the top, it could be a big break."

Nevelus said his business and the business next to his had been dealing with raw sewage that would seep up into the building during some storms.

"Every time we'd have a heavy rain, we'd get back-up into the basement," Nevelus said. "I think it's been about a month or two [since the sewage began leaking into the basement]. Maybe longer."

A foreman overseeing the digging stage of the project confirmed that the complaints about sewage back-up led to the immediate repair of the pre-1940s, clay sewage main.

A retired Highway Department worker overseeing the project for the City of Beacon said the city had already been monitoring the broken main before last week when it was decided the main needed immediate attention.

"Our staff is on the ball," City Administrator Anthony Ruggiero said when reached by phone Monday afternoon. "They're going to be working through the night."

Ruggiero said the 'big dig' is also a chance for the city to be proactive. 

"Since it's old and they're already opening it up ... They may slip in another section [of the sewer main]," Ruggiero said.

Ruggiero said the project is included in the city's capital plan, is expected to cost about $100,000, and could be completed by Thursday.

Back at the Beacon Falls Cafe, Monday's lunch crowd was not as big as usual, even though sidewalks have remained open. Nevelus said he might lose some business because of the repairs -- although he did not seem worried. 

Nevelus said he considered closing down for the day, but decided to stay open so his employees "could at least make some money."

When asked to gauge his frustration level, Nevelus smiled. 

"It is what it is," he said in a matter-of-fact manner. "It has to be done. We'll get through it."