MSD: Louisville facing historic number of street collapses

Louisville facing historic number of street collapses, MSD says
Updated: Aug. 3, 2018 at 7:52 PM EDT
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These signs are popping up all over downtown Louisville this summer. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
These signs are popping up all over downtown Louisville this summer. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville's crumbling infrastructure has reached historic proportions, according to the Metro Sewer District.

The department and contractors are working around the clock to repair another line collapse--one that's left a gaping hole at Baxter Avenue and East Liberty Street.

Those repairs are underway as crews work on another fix to a collapse on Broadway.

Officials were reluctant to give out a timeline as to when the Baxter hole would be repaired because they still don't know how big of an issue they're facing.

That collapse is 50-feet by 20-feet and 12-feet deep.

MSD officials said the cause is a 147-year-old sewer line that failed after storms several weeks ago.

Typically, officials said they only see one or two large emergency breaks all year, but due to storms, they've experienced several in the past few months.

Road collapse at Liberty St. and Baxter Ave. closes intersection; 2nd collapse this summer
Part of East Liberty Street closed due to cave-in; MSD works on repairs
Five lanes of Broadway at Preston closed due to cave-in
MSD begins major repair work in downtown Louisville
Busy intersection in Phoenix Hill closing for roadwork

"These are happening very frequently right now," Brian Bingham, the Chief of Operations for MSD, said. "As a matter of fact, I'm not aware of any time in our history that we had this many breaks this close together."

Just several months ago, there was a hole due to similar reasons at another spot just over 100 feet away.

A sewer line at Broadway and Preston is still expected to be under construction there for up to two weeks.

"The TARC gets to this point at Preston Street and Broadway, I get off of the bus and walk past this," pedestrian Theresa Duncan said. "TARC buses are heavy."

Sewer officials said they need metro government to approve rate increases to help pay for the emergency fixes and preventative work.

"How much longer is the city of Louisville going to let this go on," Duncan said.

Some businesses nearby feel the impact.

"I think that the biggest concern we have quite honestly is the condition of the roads themselves," Watson Courtenay, who owns a marketing company on Baxter Avenue, said. "They've had to dig up this area not once, but a couple of times and now with the new collapse down the road. I guess that's my biggest concern."

Courtenay said construction on Lexington Road has been an inconvenience and now traffic is blocked again because of the collapse on the other side of his block, which he said is hurting other businesses too.

"Because they rely obviously on traffic," Courtenay said. "If their clients can't get to the restaurant, that hurts business for them a lot."

Some, like Duncan, said the infrastructure has been crumbling so frequently that she's now worried for her safety.

"Can we please just get the whole sewer line fixed," Duncan said.

A solution MSD said would be less expensive than what some like Duncan are calling a piecemeal approach to a bigger problem.

Officials say it could take a week and a half to fix the problem on Baxter Avenue, but no services have been interrupted.

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