It's been a long road for construction along Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg. It’s been going on three years now, in fact. The limited-access freeway will run from just east of 4th Street to just west of the I-275 interchange.
The flyover project impacts thousands of drivers every day. But for the Sandbar and Grill, 10056 Gandy Boulevard North in St. Petersburg, the backup problem isn't just the traffic, it's their sewer system after construction crews accidentally struck a line.
The Sandbar owners reached out to 10News for help getting someone to pay for the plumbing problems.
The owners tell 10News that suddenly the sinks and toilets started backing up. It took them days to get to the bottom of what was causing the stinky situation that forced them to shut down their business.
“There was no sewage going down at all,” said Sandbar co-owner Dan Dorritie.
Like any business, the Sandbar banks on its customers.
“They were closed for a few days, and we all were upset. We all come here all the time,” said customer Cole Geis.
Plumbing problems in November 2016 and the subsequent four-day closure meant money down the drain.
“We were out of work for a few days. It was a real disaster,” said Sandbar cook Gary Wilson.
“It’s an average of about $10,000 for that time period that we lost in sales and food spoilage and everything else,” said Dorritie.
Dorritie says plumbers and the city went back and forth on who should fix the sewer line problem, until they discovered what happened. The owners found broken pieces of the sewer pipe next to a newly-installed street light.
“You can see the green pipe runs right where that cement was and there were chunks of this everywhere. They actually broke an auger bit when they were drilling the light pole the other night,” said Dorritie.
Dorritie says as part of FDOT's construction project right outside the bar, FCS, the contractor's subcontractor, cut into the sewer line installing the light pole, but never said anything to the business until they were confronted.
“If we would've known about it, that's our biggest argument. We could've had it fixed immediately,” said Dorritie.
The contractor, Condotte America, did help with repairs. But the Sandbar sent a letter to the company asking for $9,932 to cover costs and lost business. “Can you help us compensate for the lost days?” asked Dorritie.
Condotte project manager Chris Phinazee’s response: "Since this private utility was unmarked and on (Florida Department of Transportation) right on (of) way we went above and beyond our responsibility to correct this issue."
FDOT tells 10News that they're looking into it. FDOT says the Sandbar can file a claim with Condotte for damages, and between them and the subcontractor, may have to pay.
“We're just trying to stay in business and keep it a happy place, like a 'Cheers' atmosphere. Everyone's having fun, good food, and good times,” said Dorritie.