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Hernando crews hustle to fix roads damaged by Tropical Storm Debby

BROOKSVILLE — The deluge of up to 16 inches of rain dumped over a three-day period by Tropical Storm Debby left Hernando County road officials scrambling to make quick repairs to major thoroughfares.

But damage from flooding, sinkholes and washouts along residential streets has taken a bit longer to evaluate due to the sheer volume of repairs that are needed.

Assistant public works director Steve Whitaker said Thursday that although a few residential streets remain impassable three weeks after Debby, county crews have been stepping up efforts to bring all roads up to par.

"Whenever you get 14 to 16 inches of rain as quickly as we did, you're bound to have some longer-term issues to deal with," Whitaker said. "We have roads with varying degrees of problems, and we've been shifting some resources to areas that are in greatest need right now."

Whitaker said that Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill, which sees 21,000 cars a day, suffered the greatest storm damage when a 20-foot sinkhole opened near its intersection with Little Street. It took crews 10 days repair the road.

Sinkholes also caused the closing of a block of Claymore Street, off Mariner, and Quality Drive near Spring Hill Regional Hospital and Suncoast Elementary School. Both roads likely will remain closed until next week.

While the state Department of Transportation said Thursday that all of its roadways are in good shape, county transportation workers are focusing much of their attention on repairs to the county's 375-mile network of unpaved streets.

Whitaker said that areas such as Royal Highlands, where a majority of roads are graded limerock, suffered heavy damage from washouts. Three county crews are currently assigned to fill-and-grade operations.

"We're still in the process of evaluating those roads, but it appears at this point that some of those roads will need more than just regular grading," Whitaker said.

Areas of Labrador Duck Road and Petrel Avenue remain partially closed to traffic while several streets that are otherwise passable contain barricades to warn drivers of washed-out areas.

Meanwhile, a heavily traveled portion of Lake Lindsey Road, from U.S. 41 east to Daly Road north of Brooksville, remained closed Thursday due to a culvert that collapsed after recent heavy rainfall. A detour was set up from Croom Road on the north side of Brooksville, running north to the intersection of Lake Lindsey and Daly. Repairs are expected to be completed this week.

Whitaker said that the deluge from Debby, coupled with normal heavy summer rainfall, likely will produce more problems with roads in the coming weeks.

"This is an extraordinary situation because it has affected so much infrastructure," he said. "It's a challenge to try to keep up."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@tampabay.com.

Hernando crews hustle to fix roads damaged by Tropical Storm Debby 07/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:15pm]
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