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Water main break causes ‘indefinite’ closure of U.S. 60 in Tempe

By KTVK/KPHO Staff

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    TEMPE, Arizona (KTVK, KPHO) — Repairs are underway after a water main break caused a section of the U.S. 60 to close in both directions from Rural Road to Loop 101 in Tempe. It started around 4 a.m. Saturday morning after a 24-inch water line broke near the freeway causing extensive flooding between the Loop 101 interchange and Rural Road.

The City of Tempe said it was their equipment that broke. Utility crews worked with ADOT to isolate the break and shut off the water. Approximately 8 million gallons of water were lost, according to Mark Weber, the City’s Interim Deputy Municipal Utilities Director. The pipe itself is 13 feet underneath the roadway, complicating maintenance. “The pipe is about 50 years old,” Weber said. “This is the first transmission main break we’ve had in the city like this.” He added that the City of Tempe will be paying for the repairs and that Tempe residents will not see any changes to their utility bills.

There is no estimated time of when the repairs will be completed. But a city spokesperson says it could take several days before the work is finished. Drivers are being asked to consider using side streets or the Loop 202 San Tan or Red Mountain as an alternate route. An ADOT spokesman said drivers heading toward Phoenix should give themselves extra time when heading into work for the week ahead. The spokesman said even with alternate routes, people should plan for an extra 30 minutes in their commute due to the increased congestion. Water service in Tempe is not being impacted. Tempe officials announced late Saturday night that the closure of the U.S. 60 would be extended from I-10 to Loop 101.

During Sunday’s press conference, Randy Everett, Central District Administrator for ADOT, said there is still a lot of water underneath the roadway and that is the department’s biggest concern. He said that the pipe itself is older and wasn’t installed with a sleeve, unlike how modern pipes are laid today. A pipe sleeve is a wider pipe that fits around the smaller pipe to protect it from bursting. That way, if the inner pipe bursts, the sleeve can keep things flowing during repairs. “In my time at ADOT, I have not seen something quite like this,” Everett said.

ADOT announced that the planned construction for the I-10 Broadway Curve improvements would be postponed because of the break. The work that was scheduled for the eastbound I-10 closure will be rescheduled for a later date. All work that started late Friday on westbound I-10 will continue.

“If you’ve got travel plans, like going to Sky Harbor Airport, or the downtown Phoenix area, what you’re going to need to think about is the use of the Red Mountain Freeway Loop 202,” said ADOT spokesman, Doug Nintzel. “The concern is about the damage underneath the freeway, pavement damage, that sort of thing. What will that take to repair? That will give us a better idea of how long the freeway needs to be closed.”

For the latest road conditions or alternative routes due to the US 60 closure, click here.

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