View of Griffin Road and U.S. 98 intersection
The intersection of Griffin Road and U.S. 98 is one of the busiest in North Lakeland. | Google Maps

Starting on April 15, crews will be working around the clock, seven days a week to dig out and replace crumbling sewer pipes at one of North Lakeland’s busiest intersections – Griffin Road near Pyramid Parkway and U.S. 98 North. 

The $1.97 million project follows the recent discovery of a section of collapsed sewer pipe and is needed to prevent imminent “large-scale failure” of a line that transports about one million gallons of wastewater per day, City Attorney Palmer Davis explained in a memo to Lakeland commissioners.

View a larger version of this diagram | The city of Lakeland released a site plan showing proposed road closures. There will also be some pedestrian detours at the intersection of U.S. 98 and Griffin Road, however all driveway entrances will remain open for businesses. | City of Lakeland

The work will replace about 600 feet of unlined ductile iron pipe that dates back to the 1980s and has deteriorated because of corrosive sewer gasses. The city has hired the Tampa-based firm Kamminga and Roodvoets Inc. to replace it with PVC pipe.

“Starting on April 15th K&R will begin prepping the site, setting up the signs and traffic barriers to support the project,” Communications Director Kevin Cook said in a news release

“The sewer repair is expected to take about eight weeks to complete and crews from K&R will work around the clock, seven days per week to expedite the project.  There will be intermittent lane closures that will impact vehicular traffic, including a portion of Griffin Road that will be closed for the duration of the project.”

The repairs will primarily take place in the right of way adjacent to the eastbound lane of Griffin Road. 

At an agenda study session last month, Water Utilities Engineer Supervisor Robert Kniss said several factors make this an especially challenging project:

  • All of the sewer lines will need to be taken offline at the same time and the sewage diverted using costly bypass pumps.
  • It is a busy intersection. One segment of the line runs between two manholes across U.S. 98.
  • The gravity line has a steep downhill pitch including a drop of about 50 feet from Providence Road to U.S. 98.
  • Large 24-inch-diameter pieces had to be custom-made in Texas and driven here on flatbed truck.
  • Because it involves city, county, and state roads, work had to be coordinated with several government agencies.
  • The city has also been coordinating with the Audi dealership at 1215 Griffin Rd. to minimize impact on the business.

“This one is going to be a doozy,” Kniss told commissioners. “We’ve kicked the can down the road enough. It’s time to get in there and fix it.”

Davis said the city has been aware of potential problems with the line and the work was included in the Wastewater Department’s fiscal 2023 budget.

Aging infrastructure is an ongoing concern for city officials. Commissioner Sam Simmons asked if there are routine assessments to identify other sewer lines that might be similarly degraded.

Kniss explained that the only way to properly assess the condition of sewer lines is to empty them by diverting the wastewater, and then use cameras to look inside. It’s an expensive and disruptive process that isn’t done unless there are indicators of a problem. 

Kniss added that most of the city’s pipes are PVC, however the oldest ones in Lakeland are made of clay and there are some made of iron. The city is aware of when lines were installed. Sometimes, a liner can be inserted to reinforce pipes instead of replacing them. 

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Cindy GloverEditor

Cindy Glover moved to Lakeland in 2021 after spending two decades in South Florida. Her career has included journalism, education, digital marketing and public relations. She worked for the Albuquerque Journal and South Florida Sun-Sentinel and spent a year as a community engagement coordinator for the City of Lakeland before joining LkldNow.

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