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Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Water main breaks snarl traffic on Ashley, S. Dale Mabry

— A pair of water main breaks late Monday and early Tuesday snarled traffic at busy Tampa intersections and caused headaches for nearby businesses, with street repairs not expected to be complete until Friday evening.

The two outer southbound lanes of Ashley Drive and westbound lanes on Tyler Street from Ashley to Macinnes Place are expected to be closed until 3:30 Friday after a 12-inch transmission line broke, flooding the intersection and lifting and buckling pavement.

All northbound lanes of Dale Mabry Highway between Ballast Point and Gandy boulevards are expected to be closed until 6 p.m. Friday after a 15-inch water main broke. That pipe was fixed Tuesday, but road repairs were expected to prolong the lane closures.

An office tower on Ashley and at least 17 businesses along Dale Mabry were under boil-water alerts, and public drinking fountains were ordered shut off. No residences were affected by either break.

The John F. Germany Library, at 900 N. Ashley Drive, closed Tuesday at 6 p.m. The library will reopen when water service is restored, a spokeswoman said. The breaks also caused delays on three Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus routes, said HART spokeswoman Sandra Morrison.

Brad Baird, the city’s water department director, said he did not think the pipe breaks were related but were likely due to what he called “water hammer,” a shock wave that travels through a pipeline when major pumps are activated.

“Over many years of that happening, it can result in a ruptured pipeline, and some of those can be very catastrophic,” Baird said. “That’s probably what we have here. It just happens that we’ve had two on major streets on back-to-back days.”

He said age of the pipes was not a factor. The Dale Mabry pipeline was 60 years old, the Ashley pipeline 50. Water pipes can last 100 years, Baird said.

Tampa averages eight pipeline breaks a day in its 2,300-mile system.

“The trend does not concern me yet,” Baird said Tuesday at the site of the Ashley break. “If we had a whole bunch more of these like you see behind me, I’d start to get a little worried about it.”

Barricades and signs are in place to assist with traffic flow, but city officials said drivers should seek alternate routes.

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