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MSD Says Downtown Sewer Collapse Will Take Weeks To Repair

Officials with Louisville's Metropolitan Sewer District say it will take weeks to fully repair a collapsed downtown sewer.

MSD gave an update on repair work during a news conference Thursday, saying a series of temporary above-ground pipes would be built to divert water and allow crews to work on the sewer.

The temporary pipes, said Executive Director Tony Parrott, should be built by Friday, Sept. 15.

“Over time," said Parrott, "we’ll be able to get one lane open. But for now, Main Street is closed."

The 102-inch sewer pipe, installed in 1948, collapsed Aug. 30 causing sections of roadway at the intersection of Main and Hancock streets to cave in. The sewer collapse closed Main Street between Clay and Jackson streets, as well as Hancock Street from Billy Goat Strut Alley to East Washington Street.

Full repairs could cost up to $3 million, Parrott said.

According to its website, MSD manages more than 3,000 miles of pipe and needs $496 million to upgrade existing sewers and facilities. Parrott said there’s now an average of nine cave-ins a month, and said more work is needed on infrastructure.

“We’ve got critical assets that serve a large portion of Jefferson County that are aging and are in need of repair and are creating risk to the system,” Parrott said. “We don’t believe that we should be running these assets to failure.”

MSD also said many sections of Louisville's sewer system are ill-equipped to handle heavy rains and the growing population's wastewater. Some sections under Broadway were built in 1867 and unravel when bricks give way.

In July, Louisville Metro Council opted not to vote on a pair of ordinances that would have granted sewer district officials the authority to raise rates beyond the 6.9 threshold currently in place and, furthermore, institute a 20 percent hike for sewer district residents this year.

Such a hike would have increased customer’s monthly bills by about $11, according to sewer district officials.

During a special meeting the day after Metro Council's decision, the MSD board settled for a 6.9 percent hike. At that meeting, MSD Chief Engineer Angela Akridge said insufficient funding for the systems could bring disaster.

“Every time it rains, who’s it going to be? Whose house is going to flood that can’t afford it? Which baby is going to be in a boat?” Akridge asked. “Operations will continue to work around the clock. But we will live in fear. We will live in fear of the next catastrophe and we will do our best to protect and serve.”

Parrott said one lane on Main Street may be reopened once 3,500 feet in temporary pipes are built to divert water from the collapsed pipe.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.

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