TEMPE, Ariz. — After more than a week of work, the eastbound lanes of U.S. 60 in Tempe have reopened as of Sunday.
Officials said due to severe damage, there is no estimated time frame for reopening the westbound lanes.
Officials said the water transmission line break on the U.S. 60 freeway is drying out, which is a vital step in the repair process.
This comes after a portion of the freeway closed over the weekend following a water main break that caused flooding on the road, Tempe city officials said.
The flooding happened after a 24-inch water transmission line broke overnight on May 7, the officials said. The line broke right in the middle of the freeway, leaving a large amount of water under the road.
On Wednesday morning, officials announced they were closing the McClintock Drive overpass to allow crews to evaluate potential settling cracks observed in the columns holding up the bridge.
The temporary closure ended Wednesday afternoon. ADOT officials said partial restrictions will remain on the overpass; two lanes will be open northbound and one lane will be open southbound. Officials said the pedestrian bridge spanning the freeway immediately east of the overpass is open.
Video from the city revealed torn-up steel where the rupture occurred. Engineers believe the erosion of the pipe was either caused by faulty construction or something in the soil.
Tempe’s Water Utilities crews isolated the break and shut off the water to the location. Residential and commercial water services were not impacted, Tempe city officials said.
The rupture is not directly under the freeway. But there is still no timetable on how long the city and its team of hired engineers will need to excavate the earth and repair the pipe.
The rupture is 22 feet below ground.
“Once we get it isolated then we will start the repair work and at the same time we’re going to do an assessment on this pipe to ensure what other repairs possibly may need to be done,” said Tara Ford, Interim Municipality Utilities Director for The City of Tempe.
The water transmission main line is nearly 50 years old and is supposed to have a shelflife of 75 years.
Coincidentally the City of Tempe was in the planning stages of a multi-year assessment of the 40-mile network of pipes known as the transmission mainline, officials say.
The City said water service to residents has not been affected and the 8 million gallons of water spilled Saturday is not going to waste but instead draining back to underground storage.
“We know that thousands of people use this freeway to get to work and school and we recognize the inconvenience this has caused to so many in our community,” said Nikki Ridley, City of Tempe spokesperson.
For westbound lanes on the US 60, a closure is in place between Loop 101 and McClintock Drive.
For detours, officials recommend using the Loop 202 Red Mountain or Loop 202 San Tan during the closure.
ADOT announced the postponement of the freeway work eastbound Interstate 10 between US 60 and Loop 202 due to the unanticipated closure of the US 60 in Tempe.
Officials are asking commuters to avoid residential streets to avoid construction.
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The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) offers driving tips to help keep people safe on the road.
"There’s always room for improvement when it comes to road safety," the department said on its website.
ADOT's suggestions include:
- Don’t speed or drive aggressively
- Never drive while under the influence of substances
- Avoid distractions while driving
- Wear your seatbelt and make sure all passengers are doing the same
- When an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road, move over
- Stay extra aware in work zones
- Be prepared for weather conditions that make driving dangerous
"Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511, downloading the AZ 511 app and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT," the department said.