A pipeline emergency on Dream Island Road has spurred frustration and created headaches for nearby residents.
At its May 4 regular meeting, the Longboat Key Town Commission transferred $100,000 from its utility contingency fund to pay for the replacement of 150 feet of 8-inch, clay- and cast-iron wastewater pipeline under Dream Island Road that needed immediate attention.
Town Engineer Anne Ross said that without immediate attention, the pipe could have caused road failure or wastewater overflow.
The original, decaying pipeline was a victim of being surrounded by groundwater 13 feet from the road’s surface.
“The problem is that in that area near Dream Island Road, you dig a hole and bay water keeps coming up,” Ross said. “It’s a challenging project for any contractor.”
The challenge has led to more than six weeks of work, which Ross said is wrapping up this week.
The work has frustrated nearby Key residents Gertrud Schellenberger and Kathy Simonds.
Schellenberger, a Key resident since 1970, lives right next to the vacant lot at 588 Dream Island Road, which town staff received permission to use as its staging area for the project.
But Schellenberger might be second guessing her decision to sell the vacant lot years ago.
“It’s very noisy and my whole house has been shaking for weeks,” said Schellenberger, who also expressed environmental concerns about a diesel oil drum on site that was used to replace the pipeline.
“It’s been a huge inconvenience and it gets tiring,” Schellenberger said.
Kathy Simonds, who lives on Dream Island Road, is also fed up with the noise.
“It was supposed to be a two-week project that’s lasted more than six weeks,” Simonds said.
A 6-foot-wide- and more-than-100-foot-long section of the road was torn up to replace the pipe. And, when a tree needed to be removed to start the project, the road was shut down completely for a four-hour stretch.
Residents in the area have also complained of milky white water in their nearby water inlet at times and will have to deal with one more week of noise. The site is undergoing restoration cleanup, which includes the relocation of cable and phone wires and the repaving of Dream Island Road.
“We know it’s noisy and we apologize for the inconvenience to our residents,” Ross said. “We tried to work with the neighbors the best we can.”