Freezing temps stall East End Tunnel construction

Freezing temps stall East End Tunnel construction

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The bright lettering leading into the East End Tunnel can't be missed. It explains that vehicles carrying hazardous materials cannot go through.

Sometime between Christmas and the New Year, a glitch in the tunnel's electronic system caused it's pipes to freeze.

"The system is designed to start a boiler system which heats the water and sends it down through the sprinkler system to keep the water above freezing, Steve Hanson, Harrods's Creek Fire Marshal said.

If there's a fire in the tunnel, the sprinklers, which is the first tier of defense, don't work.

Fire crews will have to bring their own water source and wouldn't be able to handle a large pile-up.

"It's not going to be good," Hanson said. "You know a big fire, a big pile under any conditions similar to what happened last week up in Indiana."

With state troopers monitoring, officials hope by keeping vehicles carrying hazmat materials out, they're minimizing the risk.

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There haven't been any incidents in the tunnel since it opened.

"Just keep our fingers crossed," Hanson said.

The question now is when will the pipes be fixed? Hanson said it's a two-week repair job and the weather must be above freezing.

"The water that's in there is still frozen," Hanson said. "That water is going to have to be thawed out. Those pipes are going to have to be removed and replaced."

Once the repairs start, traffic will be reduced to one lane in the tunnel. The system will need to be tested once the repairs are complete.

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