Utility workers and contractors with the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission will be working through Easter weekend on a collapsed sewer main that closed Whitlock Street on Thursday.
A 30-inch reinforced concrete sewer main about 15 feet under Whitlock broke down Thursday morning, creating a sinkhole along the side of the road.
Utility workers closed a section of the road to through traffic later in the day and recommended those passing through avoid the 1.5-mile stretch of Whitlock between Old Jesup Road and Townsend Street entirely.
Crews worked overnight Thursday to bypass the broken section of pipe, preventing a service outage.
“They spent all night getting the bypass pumps piped up ... probably about 9 o’clock (Friday) morning, they got everything piped up and just beat the weather,” said JWSC Executive Director Jimmy Junkin.
The situation is currently under control, but it could take at least a week before repairs are complete.
Workers spent all day Thursday digging up a section of pipe, finding the top portion crumbling, he explained.
The utility has new PVC pipe on-hand, but the state of the existing concrete pipeline may require a more modern approach.
If possible, the utility will replace only the broken 40-foot section with PVC, but Junkin said the entire 540 feet of the pipe between the two nearest manholes may be unsalvageable.
“If all that holds up and we can replace the pieces that are collapsed with the pipe that just came in, we’re going to see how feasible it is to secure (the PVC pipes) up to the old pipe. It’s not looking feasible because the top of the old pipe is in very poor condition,” Junkin said.
Should it not be possible to replace only the broken sections, the utility will try using CIPP, or cured-in-place pipe. Junkin said it’s a type of fiberglass sleeve they can run through the existing pipe. Running hot water through the pipe will cause it to puff out and harden, he said.
“Once those resins are hardened up, it’s just like new pipe. If we do this, that line is good for decades to come,” Junkin said.
Given how sudden the problem arose, Junkin said any estimates as to the cost of the repairs would be wild guesses. He’d have to take into account contractors, employee overtime, and new equipment and material purchases. He did say it could have been worse, however.
“It’s amazing how they responded, reacted, put things together, got the resources lined up and knocked things out in an efficient manner,” Junkin said. “Had they not done all they did, we’d be suffering much worse issues at the construction site.”