PALM HARBOR — A broken water main snarled traffic Wednesday morning on U.S. 19 and may cause delays for days to come, officials said.
Two of three southbound lanes of U.S. 19 at Alderman Road were open Wednesday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
The break happened Tuesday afternoon when a contractor working on an expansion of the Walmart struck a 12-inch water line, said a Walmart spokeswoman and Dave Baker, Pinellas County Utilities conservation resources manager.
The gushing water prompted deputies to close U.S. 19 in both directions about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday. The northbound lanes reopened a few hours later.
Repairs to the 12-inch water main, and an additional water main that was damaged, created a lengthy backup during Wednesday's morning rush. No accidents were reported, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
Southbound motorists were diverted at Klosterman Road to Belcher Road or Alt. U.S. 19.
Westbound Alderman Road at U.S. 19 was also closed.
The water mains had been repaired by late Wednesday morning, but the breakage caused "substantial damage" to U.S. 19, including erosion of 1,500 feet of 11/2 southbound lanes and severe erosion from the edge of the travel lanes to the right of way, according to a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
Carson could not say Wednesday afternoon how long repairs would take.
Pinellas deputies asked that all motorists avoid the intersection until further notice.
Thirty-five homes near the intersection were advised to boil their water, Baker said. The notice could last for 48 hours. Officials will check the water quality twice before rescinding the alert, he said.
His department has received several calls about discolored water near the area. He said the water should clear up after running for two or three minutes.
A Walmart spokeswoman apologized for the inconvenience and said the company is working "to resolve the matter as soon as possible."