McClintock bridge over the US 60 in Tempe safe to reopen after small cracks found
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The McClintock Drive overpass at the U.S. 60 in Tempe is safe to reopen after crews found small cracks on a bridge support beam, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. ADOT bridge inspectors say the bridge can carry drivers and have told the City of Tempe. At about 4:30pm, ADOT said they deemed the bridge safe for drivers and now one lane will be open in both directions.
The bridge problems were tied to a 24-inch water line that broke near the freeway causing extensive flooding between the Loop 101 interchange and Rural Road. The steel pipe broke on Saturday morning and the U.S. 60 has been closed in both directions ever since.
ADOT and city engineers spent Wednesday inspecting the bridge columns after small cracks were found where there was standing water due to the water main break. ADOT said the closure was a precaution and that previous inspections noted there are surface cracks.
The U.S. 60 remains closed in the area, and there are no signs of when it might reopen. Officials previously said that the break was north of the freeway between the pedestrian bridge and the overpass, closer to the offramp near McClintock.
One commuter said the bridge closer added 30 minutes to his commute. “I couldn’t get here. I got here yesterday without any problem, but today I tried to come down McClintock over the 60 overpass and it was all blocked off. It routed me back on the 60, then I had to get back on the 101 and traffic was backed up bumper to bumper,” said Jeffrey Ulrich, owner of Granny Nannies.
Tempe City spokesperson Tara Ford said earlier this week said that the water main is a steel cylinder pipe and should have lasted 75 years, but it was only 50 years old when it broke that Saturday morning. “This was very unforeseen,” Ford said during the news conference. “There was no reason why we thought it would fail with 25 years left on this pipe.”
Sam Ariaratnam, professor at Arizona State University and construction engineering program chair, says breaks like this are common. “The Water Research Foundation did a study, and they found there was an average of about 25 breaks per 100 miles of water pipeline. So that kind of relates to about 850 breaks per day in North America,” said Ariaratnam.
Ariaratnam says these breaks, unfortunately, happen with these systems. “People think of us as being a young city or a young region, but really it isn’t. I mean, we have water infrastructure lines that are in that 100-plus year life right now,” he told Arizona’s Family on Monday.
To avoid the area, drivers who usually use the eastbound U.S. 60 should consider using either eastbound Loop 202 Santan Freeway to northbound Loop 101 or eastbound Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway to the Loop 101 to reach the U.S. 60 past the closure. Drivers who normally head west on the U.S. 60 can head north of the Loop 101 and then use the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway to get to Sky Harbor or downtown Phoenix. They can also head south on Loop 101 to the Santan Freeway in the Chandler area to connect with I-10. To get around the McClintock closure, drivers can use Price Road or Rural Road in Tempe.
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