Tampa, Florida - Imagine you are driving along and large hole opens up in the road. It happened to a USF student Wednesday afternoon and on Thursday, city workers are fixing the problem.
City workers have been installing a bypass pump system to assure the sewer keeps working to the New Tampa area. Tampa Waste Water officials say the break has interrupted service. The project will take some time; the completion date June 24.
"Hurry up," says Patti Seaberg, who manages The Pointe Apartment complex at the end of the street that more than 1,000 residents use.
"It's very busy. It's my main entrance to my property and residents to exit and enter onto the property," Seaberg says. "It's going to be a big inconvenience to everyone... not only us, but the hospital and medical facilities, it'll be a difficult time."
What was thought to be a sinkhole is being called a cave-in. Tampa Waste Water Director Anthony Kasper says the hole was caused by hydrogen sulfate gas that ate away at the top section of the sewer pipe, allowing the soil to wash out and create the void.
"When liners fail -- that protect the pipes from sulfuric acid and corrosion -- it can go pretty quick," Kasper says.
The roadway collapsed late Wednesday afternoon when a USF student made a right-hand turn onto Bruce B. Downs.
"When she made the right-hand turn had enough momentum to get her out of the hole as the ground gave way," says Robert Reichold, tow truck driver for Split Second Truck Service.
The cave-in caused a flat tire and damage to the student's car. Waste Water officials say the city has 1,600 miles of sewer pipes that are inspected every seven years.
Kasper says, "Life span of pipes is 50-100 years, not all that long."
Tampa's Waster Water Director says he believes the pipe was inspected about seven years ago, but he could not provide an exact date. He says the pipe was probably due for inspection soon.
As for the USF student who drove through the cave-in, 10 News made a call to the city's Claims Office director Mike LaPerche. He assured us he is sending an adjuster to look at the student's car and decide if the city will help her pay for repairs.