Monday, April 4, 2011

Bourn Avenue: Infrastructure Failure

 About a month ago, a portion of Bourn Avenue failed.  Some would blame it on the heavy trucks working at the intersection of Broadway and Stadium, using Bourn as an access.  However, failure had already occurred, the trucks were merely a catalyst to make the failure evident.

As you can see from the above photo, there is a gap between two pipes.  When curb and gutter was placed on Bourn Avenue many, many years ago, the construction crew placed a concrete pipe at the end of a metal pipe.  The gap between the two pipes was not sealed.  During storm events, the gap allowed soil to be drawn from the outside of the pipe through the storm system and to a nearby drainage way.  After time, a large void developed outside the pipe and under the pavement.

In the photo above, you can still see a small part of the void under the pavement.

Eventually, the void became too great and the pavement could not bridge the gap and failed.  The Public Works Storm Water Operations crew has spent many hours replacing the failed system including pipe, inlets and street pavement.  The photo below shows some of the completed street repair.

Storm water pipes in Columbia are beginning to face a crisis.  Many pipes installed in the 1950’s and 1960’s are at the end of their life span.  The last two years have had record rainfalls, which can exacerbate pipe failures.   We will continue to see pipe failures across town.