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Holes under road close part of SR 580

Published April 7, 2006

CLEARWATER - A stretch of State Road 580 could be closed for up to a week, city officials said on Thursday, after workers found at least two holes growing underneath the busy six-lane street.

Traffic will be re-routed between Countryside Boulevard and Landmark Drive while crews work around the clock to fill in the holes, which were created when a sanitary sewer line ruptured.

The discovery, which came during a routine inspection of the sewer line Wednesday night, may have averted a disaster, said Clearwater utilities director Andy Neff.

Neff said the road could have collapsed.

"This was an accident waiting to happen," Neff said Thursday.

City officials are not sure when the sewer line, made of cast iron and nearly 30 years old, broke. But as sewage moved through the system, it also collected dirt from around the 18-inch pipe.

Crews will have to dig up the road and replace a 120-foot-long section of pipe, which is about 10 feet underground. They will then fill in the holes and rebuild the road. The holes are between 1 and 5 cubic yards large, Neff said.

The work could take seven days, Neff said. The work is included in an already agreed-to contract, and its cost is not yet known.

"We understand it's an inconvenience," Neff said. "But it's much better that we found this out now."

The section of road, which is east of U.S. 19 and near Countryside Mall, is used by 36,500 motorists a day on average. During the repairs, traffic is being diverted south to Enterprise Road. Utilities officials say a temporary above-ground pipe is now servicing the area's sewer customers.

Message boards in the area will warn motorists of the detours.

"Hopefully, a lot of people will just avoid the area entirely," said Paul Bertels, the city's traffic operations manager.

[Last modified April 7, 2006, 01:31:16]

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