Water main break raises rupture concerns

Riverview, FL -- If that huge water main break along U.S. Highway 301 in Riverview has you thinking it seems like this has been happening every day in the Bay area, you're wrong.

According to Tampa Water Department Director Brad Baird, it happens far more frequently than that,

"We average about eight pipeline breaks a day," said Baird.

Yes, eight each day. Some create depressions in the roads. Others cause craters.

The most recent on Highway 301 was serious enough to snarl traffic for close to a full day. The road is scheduled to reopen Thursday night.

"It's frustrating. Of course, it's created a lot of problems for drivers out there," said Kris Carson, Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson.

In this case, investigators think a work crew installing a new section of sewer pipe hit a 24-inch main, creating a gash more than foot long and close to two inches wide.

The pipe itself was installed in 1990.

In recent weeks, the damage had been more spontaneous.

Older infrastructure around the Bay area has been crumbling and collapsing following decades of pressure.

This month, a series of pipe breaks along Armenia Avenue, Himes Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa left businesses blocked and commuters, fuming.

PHOTO GALLERY: See the damage on Armenia

"The ones that just failed recently on Armenia are over 70 years old – about 75 years old," said Baird.

Baird says there is a five-year, $50 million plan underway to get the aging infrastructure fixed. The projects have been scheduled by need and priority.

THE MAP: Tampa's schedule to replace water mains through 2018

Some are currently in the works, with fragile, older, two-inch lines being replaced with wider six-inch pipes that will provide for more pressure, increased safety and reliability.

"The newer materials are better," said Baird, "and they may last longer."

As for the latest water main break in Riverview, FDOT says good weather helped workers make good progress.

They did not think the new asphalt would be ready to roll over before Thursday night's rush-hour commute, but perhaps, they say, within a few hours of that.

For now, it remained a big inconvenience for the estimated 50 businesses affected, and the approximately 38,000 vehicles that use the stretch of road each day.


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