Contract laborers worked with shovels and heavy machinery Friday trying to find what one described as a possible leak in a new 12-inch water main recently installed under Ramsey Street in Banning.
Between noon and 3 p.m., they dug at least two pits through pavement and dirt to check the new pipe between 3rd Street and San Gorgonio Avenue.
Ramsey remained open in both directions, but the workers had to set up barriers to protect themselves from vehicles moving on the street within a few feet of the excavations.
Liz Olsen, general manager for the San Gorgonio Ballet on Ramsey between 2nd and 3rd streets, said recent work on Ramsey has been "a headache" at times for local businesses.
"They've been working for quite some time now at different locations on Ramsey," Olsen said. "They just started this one this morning. I don't know how bad the pipes are, but sometimes it seems they are not working to get it finished."
One of the pits workers dug Friday was a few steps west of the entrance to the San Gorgonio Ballet's dance studio and offices.
"The thing is, the work could be better scheduled to allow access to local businesses," Olsen said. "They could do this after business hours."
Worker Raul Sanchez, 27, of Moreno Valley, who spent much of Friday afternoon digging knee-deep or deeper into and under Ramsey Street, said the project had been ongoing for several moths.