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Leak located in Tempe US 60 water main break, drivers preparing for longer commutes

Flooding us60
Posted at 10:21 PM, May 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 20:55:29-04

TEMPE — The US 60 remains closed after a water main break flooded the freeway Saturday morning.

On Monday afternoon, officials provided an update on the U.S. 60 closure. Watch in the player below.

“Coming back from Ahwatukee today, we couldn’t take the 60 with two kids in the back,” says Craig Price. He lives close to the highway.

Sunday afternoon, ADOT announced drivers who use the US 60 on weekdays should plan for about 30 extra minutes of drive time.

Price says, “That will be an adjustment as far as dropping the kids off and childcare.”

This comes after a water main break happened Saturday between Loop 101 and Rural Road. The closure now extended between I-10 and Loop 101. City of Tempe working to cut a hole in the pipe in McClintock to send a camera 13 feet down and pinpoint where the break is.

Randy Everett, ADOT Central District Administrator says, "We've got a lot of obvious water underneath the roadway. So that's the biggest assessment concern right now. We've got to look and see where we're at. How much is it? How much is continuing to come out? When we get that shut down, that's when we can really go into where we are where we need to be to open up US 60.”

City of Tempe says the steel pipe that burst is almost 50 years old. Mark Weber, City of Tempe Interim Deputy Municipal Utilities Director for Water Utilities says, "A pipe of this type and design would normally last about 75 years. So, this is the first transmission main break we've had in a city like this.”

During a Monday afternoon press briefing, officials confirmed that they located the break itself, about 20 to 22 feet deep on the north side of highway, between the pedestrian bridge and the overpass.

Tempe officials also confirmed that the floodwater is returning to the storm water system.

We asked if there are other similar pipes underneath highways in the Valley. Weber says, “About 40 miles of transmission main and we also have about 860 miles of distribution system main, which includes the transmission main, so we have a lot of pipes in Tempe.”

"We are in the process of putting together a transmission assessment project we've been working on for about a year. So we knew that this was a possibility. So we're trying to get out in front of it. Unfortunately, we didn't quite get up front of this one," Weber says.

Weber says that assessment is expected to take five years. The city says Tempe residents still have water service. The City of Tempe has not said how expensive repairs will be. We asked if other pipes in Tempe are in jeopardy.

"There's no guarantees with these types of pipes that you know, there could be manufacturing defect,” says Weber. “The soil conditions can be such that it would corrode a pipe more frequently, you know, faster.”

The City of Tempe says that residents will not be seeing an additional hike on their water bill because of the water main break.

ADOT says the stretch that’s impacted sees an average of 170,000 vehicle trips per day.

“I don’t know, I’m trying to have a good attitude about it but it is a bit concerning that they don’t know how long it’s going to take,” says Price.

Officials still have not said when the US 60 will reopen. If US 60 is your regular commute, ADOT suggests taking the Loop 202 Santan or Red Mountain Freeway instead.