Rains making water main breaks soar in Tampa; barricades 'everywhere'

6:12 PM, Aug 19, 2013   |    comments
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South Tampa, FL -- Frustrated commuters in South Tampa aren't just seeing red. They're seeing plenty of orange and white too. 

Road barricades are all over the place creating traffic headaches, and it may be several weeks before it gets any better.

Tampa's public works department says the number of water main breaks they've had to repair is way beyond their typical summer season.

"Probably about triple the amount of pipeline breaks that we normally have," said Tampa's water department director, Brad Baird.

On Monday morning a hole caused by a leak took away a lane on Southbound Bayshore, just north of Bay to Bay. It was just the latest problem caused by the rain-soaked ground... softening to the point where in this case, a connecting service line snapped.

The aging infrastructure is not able to handle the stress in some cases, says Baird.

"The reality is we have to fix it when it breaks."

It's not that the city doesn't replace its pipes. In fact, that's what a lot people trying to get around the mess on Bayshore ran into on Monday morning.

Another barrage of barricades from a  pipe project at Palmira, Barcelona, Granada, Bay to Bay and Himes.

In the middle of that construction project, there's clearly no shortage of frustration either, as the lights at the intersection continue to change even though clearly there's absolutely no way for traffic to get through.

"It doesn't make any sense at all. But that's the way things usually are," said one woman.

There's little re-routing relief on the side-streets either. Just three blocks south of Bay to Bay and Himes, it's apparently been pothole pot luck.

"One of the dump trucks fell in and then we had a car that fell in," said Lorie Warchol.

Warchol was talking about the pothole in front of her house which opened up a few days ago on what was a freshly re-paved road in Palma Ceia. Less than five months after a major resurfacing, the road is now closed to traffic as neighbors wait on a dry day or two to finally get it all patched.

"I think that that clogs it up and has caused some wetness underneath when they were paving. So unfortunately it just didn't take the surface," said Warchol.

"It's hard to do if it's raining every day," said Baird. "It's a constant battle."

Baird says there's no sign of relief for several more weeks, assuming we see more rain and the water table stays high.

The wet weather also makes asphalt repairs difficult.

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