a black truck driving down a road next to traffic cones
A sewer line break in Tavernier forced a northbound lane to close to allow for repairs. KELLIE BUTLER FARRELL/Keys Weekly

Motorists traveling north in the Upper Keys on June 18 experienced heavy traffic backups after a sewer line break at MM 92.5 in Tavernier closed one road lane. 

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the village of Islamorada issued alerts around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday regarding a wastewater line break. Crews arrived on scene to conduct repairs, leaving only one northbound lane open to vehicles on a busy Father’s Day and three-day weekend with the federal holiday Juneteenth celebrated Monday, June 19.

A.J. Engelmeyer, Islamorada wastewater services director, told the Keys Weekly via email that the break was to the village wastewater’s conveyance force main. Repairs to the main and the road went into the night as northbound traffic remained heavy. Traffic returned to normal Monday morning as the repairs were completed around 8 p.m. Sunday night and paving finished by 4 a.m. on Monday. 

Engelmeyer said the road repairs took some time to complete before two lanes were back open.

“The limiting factor is the asphalt plant and getting one to open,” he said.

Islamorada’s collection system, which serves residents and businesses from Plantation Key to Lower Matecumbe Key, is a combination of vacuum and low pressure with sewage conveyed to the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The closure of one northbound lane had traffic backed up for several miles throughout the day and into the evening. The village alert urged residents to avoid the area if possible. A post by MCSO stated that traffic was still flowing, but the closure of one northbound lane remained due to the continued sewer issue.

This isn’t the first time a sewer line broke in the area. In March 2019, a 20-foot sewer line broke at MM 92.5. Repairs took roughly 12 hours to complete. 

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures in Western New York. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 5-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club. When he's not working, he's busy chasing his son, Lucas, around the house and enjoying time with family.