This story was updated July 26, 2018, at 5:42 p.m. with more information.
After three water main breaks in the area so far this year, Tennessee American Water said Thursday it will upgrade its aging pipe along Hixson Pike near Lupton Drive.
The water utility sustained a couple of water main breaks this week — one on Wednesday and then another the next day while that pipe was being fixed — that forced the closing of Hixson Pike early Thursday from Lupton Drive to Van Buren Street.
Hixson Pike reopened Thursday night to some traffic. At least one lane of the road will remain partially closed for up to three weeks while crew install 600 feet of the bigger 12-inch pipe to replace the older 8-inch pipe and the road is rebuilt after it was dug up for the repairs.
"Every day across the U.S., water utilities face challenges due to aging infrastructure," said Tennessee American Water engineering manager Kurt Stafford. "At Tennessee American Water, we are committed to making continuous infrastructure investments of about $20 million annually. The new pipe on Hixson Pike is one example of these projects."
Daphne Kirksey, external affairs manager for Tennessee American Water, said water main breaks in the area temporarily cut off water Wednesday for Rivermont Elementary School and other businesses on Hixson Pike, but the main breaks were fixed by Thursday and water service is back to normal, Kirksey said. The water main breaks this week followed another water main break in the area in January.
"We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are working safely and as quickly as possible," she said.
The existing 8-inch water mains in the area were installed in 1954, Kirksey said.
The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that Tennessee has more than $2.7 billion in water system needs for pipe replacements and other improvements over the next two decades.
"When it comes to infrastructure, most people instantly think of roads and bridges," Stafford said. "Those of us in the water business think about the underground pipes and other assets."