Busy Louisville intersection remains closed after street collapse
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The intersection at Baxter Avenue and Liberty Street remains closed after part of the street collapsed Thursday afternoon, the fifth major sewer cave-in MSD has seen in about two months.
Caution tape and cones surround the sinkhole left behind by the sewer line failure. MSD said the hole is about 50 x 20 feet wide and 12 feet deep.
"I'm not aware of anytime in our history that we've had this many breaks this close together," MSD Chief Operations Officer Brian Bingham said.
The sinkhole shut down one lane of East Liberty and part of the intersection at Baxter Avenue, which has been closed between Lexington Road and Hamilton Avenue since May as crews install sewer pipe that will eventually help prevent waste water from spilling into Beargrass Creek.
The closure at Baxter and Lexington is scheduled to continue through the first week of August, but MSD says that is a worst-case scenario.
MSD does not know how long it will take for crews to complete repairs. During a news conference Friday afternoon, officials said the longer it takes to secure full funding to fix the city's infrastructure, the more expensive it will be.
MSD has not been able to secure additional funding for a plan to tackle the aging sewer infrastructure. It will cost $4 billion over 20 years to rehab the complex sewer systems underneath the pavement. MSD needs Metro Council approval to raise rates higher than seven percent.
"We couldn't garner enough votes in order to be able to do that," Metro Council President David James said. "Many of the council members are torn between another dollar being added to the bill of people who are already struggling. It's a hard thing to deal with, however, on the other hand we have an extreme public safety issue that has to be addressed."
James realizes the city's sewer infrastructure is more than 100 years old and has some major issues. He says this council has tried to address the problems several times but not all members can come to an agreement to raise rates. James says the problem can also be attributed to previous city governments.
"In government, it's just a lot easier to kick the can down the road and I think that's absolutely what happened," He said.
James wants the council to address the issues to help fix the system and keep the burden low for taxpayers. MSD is looking for cooperation from Metro Council and the community.
"We are doing everything we can about these," Bingham said. "We need your help. We need Metro Council's help, and we're happy to talk to anybody at anytime."
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