The William Lehman Causeway in Northeast Miami-Dade reopened eastbound in the middle of Friday rush hour after being shut down from a sewage-pipe break since Thursday night.
Aventura police closed the east-west causeway around 10 p.m. Thursday and at one point police from Sunny Isles Beach warned the public to prepare for a closure lasting days.
But at 6:20 p.m., Miami-Dade’s Water and Sewer Department announced all eastbound lanes had reopened. Two hours later, Aventura police said southbound West Country Club Drive in front of the department would remain closed until further notice but that all other intersections had been reopened. The westbound lanes were expected to reopen Saturday afternoon, once the repair on the ruptured sewage pipe below the bridge is finished, said agency spokeswoman Jennifer Messemer-Skold.
Crews were working overnight and throughout Friday to repair the break in the 24-inch pipe that was installed in 1979. The pipe is 12 feet underground and underneath the water table in the area, making repairs challenging.
Aventura officers got a call late Thursday that a vehicle hit a pothole on the causeway. But it turned out to be more serious than that.
“The integrity of the road was actually collapsing,” Aventura police officer Hans Maestre told reporters at the scene.
Sunny Isles Beach announced after 2 p.m. that the causeway could be closed “for several days” because of the need for repairs “more extensive than previously thought.“ That grim forecast was replaced two hours later with news from Water and Sewer that the full closure would end Friday night. That then was moved up with the surprise announcement of the eastbound lanes reopening. The three lanes still narrow to a pair of lanes around the repair site, before returning to three lanes, Messemer-Skold said.
County workers were able to stop the sewage flow out of the breach by 1:15 a.m. Friday, she said. There is no estimate on how much sewage was discharged.
A precautionary boil water order for residents of Hidden Bay, 3370 NE 190th St., was put into effect. Miami-Dade said the boil-water order stemmed from a separate problem.
“This was totally unrelated,” Messemer-Skold said.
The cause of the water main break is still unknown, but age and deterioration are suspects, Messemer-Skold said.
The causeway connects U.S. 1 just south of the Aventura Mall to A1A in Sunny Isles Beach.
Drivers were asked to take alternate routes to avoid the closed lanes. Those include Hallandale Beach Boulevard to the north and the Sunny Isles causeway at 163rd Street to the south.