The water main leak that closed southbound McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater last week created plenty of havoc for construction-weary morning commuters. Even though the leak was fixed fairly quickly it makes one wonder about what's going on with our infrastructure. It seems like we've had a lot of water main breaks in Pinellas County the past two years or so. The Doc spoke with Ivan Fernandez, an engineer with Pinellas County's engineering and technical support division, and asked him about this latest problem.
Fernandez said last week's incident began with reports of a puddle of water forming on the pavement of McMullen-Booth Road, which is cause for alarm, considering that the water pipes are 17 feet below the surface.
"The roads are not designed to have their bases saturated,'' Fernandez said. "That saturation is a big concern for potential road collapse, so when we see water forming like that we have to expect the worst."
Commuters got lucky. After workers excavated the site and found the leak, it wasn't as bad as expected, so the repair initially thought to take several days to complete was wrapped up within about 24 hours from when the leak was first reported.
But what about next time? Because there will be a next time. Fernandez says the concrete water main that runs under McMullen-Both Road was constructed in 1960. "Concrete pipes can last a hundred years. But sometimes they don't depending on the environment,'' Fernandez said. "The infrastructure is aging here and nationally, and that's a real concern."
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The Bubba's Bikes for Badges charity ride, which raises money to benefit the families of local law enforcement officers killed or injured in the line of duty, is today. The run begins at 7 a.m. and should wrap up around 2 p.m. Motorists should be prepared for motorcyclists escorted by police along the route that will travel west from Jim's Harley Davidson at 54th Avenue N and 28th Street to Park Street; Park Street to First Avenue S; First Avenue S to 28th Street; then north on 28th Street back to the starting point. Visit bubbasbikesforbadges.com or call toll-free 1-888-692-8222 for information.
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