The Chandler City Council declared an emergency last week after the Public Works Department was caught without the necessary equipment to handle a major sewer line break that collapsed a large segment of McQueen Road Aug. 3.
The council made an emergency allocation Thursday of up to $1 million to bring in private contractor McCarthy Building Companies, according to Jim Phipps, city spokesman.
The McCarthy construction firm already was working on a nearby $71 million project to expand capacity at the city's Airport Water Reclamation Plant, a wastewater treatment facility at McQueen and Queen Creek roads, from 10 million gallons of sewage per day to 15 million.
"It's like if you have a heart attack in a movie theater and it turns out there is a doctor in the theater that can come to your aid," Phipps said.
Had McCarthy not been there, the city would have faced delays in investigating the leak and getting it and the roadway fixed, he said.
Because of the leak's location, it represented a potential threat to Chandler's ability to treat wastewater and a public safety issue, according to a report from Dave Siegle, municipal services director, and Sheina Hughes, assistant public works director.
City officials were alerted to the sewer line break early this month after an unrelated power outage at the adjacent treatment plant, according to the report.
After the break was found, city officials rerouted the flow of sewage, Phipps said. Customers were not affected, officials have said.
The break collapsed a segment of McQueen Road, creating a roughly 20-foot-by-20-foot sinkhole beneath the southbound lanes, just south of Queen Creek Road. Crews reopened one southbound lane to traffic last week.
The leak appeared to originate at a pressurized sewer main connection, according to the public works report.
Although the City Council has allocated $1 million, the actual cost to fix the leak and the roadway won't be known until the area is excavated, the report states. The money is expected to come from bonds approved for wastewater improvements.
The roadway collapse occurred within a three-mile stretch of McQueen Road that Chandler officials plan to spend roughly $21 million widening. The city last week held a workshop on final designs for the project, which calls for widening McQueen to six lanes between Queen Creek and Ocotillo roads, and to four lanes between Ocotillo and Riggs roads.
The improvements are expected to include new curbs, gutters, storm drains, sidewalks, streetlights, bike lanes, medians and landscaping, as well. The City Council approved the roadway widening concept last October.