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Work Begins Monday To Replace Troy Water Main

Workers in 2016 attend to the broken pipe, preparing to weld new pieces.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Next week the city of Troy will begin work to replace a water line that burst in January 2016, impacting several nearby communities and rerouting traffic for weeks.

Days into the job in January 2016, Troy Mayor Patrick Madden faced a major infrastructure failure.

“When this broke last year it actually drained the water plant. We lost 8 million gallons of water,” said Madden.

A 33-inch water line under the streets of Lansingburgh ruptured, sending millions of gallons of treated water into city streets. And it wasn’t only Troy customers who were affected. Residents of Waterford and Halfmoon had service cut off. There was a loss in pressure in Rensselaer and East Greenbush.

Streets were closed off and repairs took weeks as workers faced the challenge of repairing a century-old pipe. The burst pipe became a poster child for the ailing infrastructure of the Capital Region. State and Congressional leaders have used it as an example in their pitches for infrastructure dollars.

After more than a year, Mayor Madden expects work to begin to replace a one-mile section of the famous pipe on Monday.

“That line is a little over 100 years old and by virtue of its age it is prone to failure and by virtue of its construction it’s very hard to repair. So we’ll be replacing that line with a 36-inch ductile iron line,” said Madden.

That new ductile iron line is a welcome addition of modern technology. 

Troy Superintendent of Public Utilities Chris Wheland said that last year it was impossible to repair the burst pipe with a new section and what are called repair clamps.

That’s because the pipe is made of riveted steel you can’t simply clamp on a new section without causing leaks.

“The only way to repair the riveted steel main was to actually weld to it. We had to grind the rivets off and weld to it, and that’s what took the repair so long,” said Wheland.

Wheland said work on the main will start at 121st and 6th Avnue in North Troy. It will continue to 5th Avenue and then run north to Northern Drive. Crews will then go east on Northern Drive to 8th Avenue. Once that’s done, work will be completed on 121st from 5th Ave to 3rd Ave.

Drivers should expect detours.

“Our major concern on road closures is on Northern Drive itself. A very high traffic area but it has to be safe for the crews to work to install the new pipe,” said Wheland.

A test dig on Northern Drive and 8th Avenue will be done on Monday and Tuesday.

The total cost to repair the line is estimated at $3.2 million, supported with the assistance of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation.  Mayor Madden says about 60 percent of the project is funded through a grant, the rest through a zero-interest loan.

Madden says that the new water line also  offer peace of mind to neighboring communities.

“In some ways, we’re all looking for opportunities for municipalities to collaborate on things. This is an early example of inter-municipal cooperation and collaboration. And of course they want to ensure they have a consistent supply. And this project gives that kind of redundancy so they can feel more comfortable in the consistency of our delivery,” said Madden.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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