Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Sinkholes, flooded roads, downed trees keep Hernando public works officials busy

Sinkholes, flooded roads and downed trees kept public works officials in Hernando County scrambling to keep up Tuesday as Tropical Storm Debby continued to slowly churn in the Gulf Of Mexico.

As work to repair sinkhole damage to Mariner Boulevard and Claymore Street in Spring Hill continued, new collapses and the threat of others kept officials on alert.

A portion of Quality Drive near Spring Hill Regional Hospital and Suncoast Elementary School had to be closed after the roadway caved in. Sinkholes also contributed Monday to the closing of part of a concrete taxiway that parallels the main runway at the Hernando County Airport.

Appearing before the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday, county engineer Brian Malmberg said his office had received more than 216 work requests to repair damage to county infrastructure.

While sinkholes added to the calamity, the 15 inches of rain that fell during the weekend in parts of Hernando County overwhelmed retention ponds and contributed to most of the county's transportation headaches. Standing water forced the closing of nine county and state roadways.

The northbound and southbound lanes of the Suncoast Parkway remained closed Tuesday between State Road 50 and State Road 98 due to standing water in an area near the toll plaza at the north end of the expressway.

Florida Turnpike Enterprise spokeswoman Christa Deason said crews were trying to pump water to alternative drainage areas in the hope of having the southbound lanes cleared by today.

"You have a situation where the water backed up because it had no place else to go," Deason said. "Once the water is pumped off, the road should be ready to open to traffic."

Malmberg said that while most of the county's paved roads remain relatively unaffected by flooding, the same isn't true for county's 375 miles of limerock roads, several of which experienced washouts. For now, county road crews are using crushed stone and gravel to fill in deep ruts because its stockpile of limestone is too wet to use.

Heavy rainfall is also blamed for extensive damage to a $1.3 million earth berm at the county's Peck Sink restoration project south of Brooksville. Early damage estimates are between $100,000 and $200,000.

While county officials had their troubles, the city of Brooksville saw no major damage, said Brooksville public works director Richard Radacky.

City crews were busy Monday cutting trees that had fallen across Hazel and Duke streets, and the only other major concern was whether the city's sewage treatment plant could handle more than a million gallons of extra water that flowed in through aging pipes.

Radacky said the city's installation of automatic generators at several sewage pump stations kept the system on line despite a power outage. "I think we came out real good," Radacky said Tuesday. "We had some minor flooding, but I haven't heard of any major damage."

Staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]

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