Work began Monday in Troy to replace a mile-long section of a 111-year-old water main that runs under the streets of Lansingburgh.
The 33-inch line was on Troy Superintendent of Public Utilities Chris Wheland's radar long before it burst in early 2016. "Two years ago we deemed this line a hazard, it was a risk, because of the age of it, the material it was, and then we put together the application for funding for it. And as the application was being submitted, it happened to break."
That break affected not only Troy residents, but disrupted water services to nearby communities Halfmoon and Waterford. Loss of pressure was noticed as far away as East Greenbush and Rensselaer. The shaky state of Collar City infrastructure troubled Mayor Patrick Madden, then brand new on the job. "It is the pipe that kept us all up at night. It's the one that actually before I assumed office I met with Chris Wheland and he singled out this pipe as the one that scared him the most. So, it's good to replace this, delighted to see it moving along, and for me, I can't get it done soon enough." Wheland added "This is large pipe, it's difficult to install. We don't wanna have to go back and repair it afterwards, so we want the contractor to do the due dilligence and do it correctly, and we're watchin' him to make sure, helping him out, making sure everything does get done correctly, but the patience form the residents in the area will be greatly appreciated, just so we don't feel pressured or under a rush.
The new 36-inch main is being laid on a route all its own, in part so as not to disturb or endanger the ancient pipe it's replacing. "Northern Drive, which is 125th Street, is going to be the only area where they kind of are next to each other, the old 33-inch line and the new line. And that will be from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue. Other than that, it's a completely separate route. We didn't want to be digging right next to the old 33-inch the whole way and have another chance of breaching it ourselves."
Once the new line is operational, the old pipe will be filled in... "...just so it doesn't collapse and cause road issues. So we're gonna fill it in with what they call 'flowable fill;' it's a light concrete."
Costs associated with the new 36-inch main are estimated to be in the $3.2 million neighborhood. Wheland says outages have been minimal as crews are striving to impact residents as little as possible. As for the likelihood of future problems: "We have a map of where all of our breaks have occurred. We have an understanding of when the pipes were installed. It's a matter of trying to correlate those to see where the risk is."
City Council President Carmella Mantello: "The $3.2 million replacement project for the water main in North Lansingburgh is critical to the city of Troy and our neighboring towns and villages. We're hopeful on the incoming budget that we'll see more infrastructure dollars for water and sewer as it's critical to public health, public safety and economic development to our city and to cities across upstate."
Officials say approximately 60 percent of the project is being funded by a grant, the rest through a zero-interest loan. The project is on schedule, expected to be finished by late July or early August.