Battling unseasonably cold temperatures to counter problems more than a century in the making, workers have installed the first leg of a replacement water main on Western Avenue.
"We've put the project on a fast track, and I signed the contract last week," Mayor Carolyn Kirk said in an e-mail message as work advanced this week.
"This is the main trunk line that persistently breaks, and has been needed to be replaced for decades. There were two back-to-back breaks over the past month, and we have decided to just get it done," Kirk said.
City Engineer Paul Keane said Friday the replacement project began Nov. 29 and that installation of the first leg of new pipe between Stage Fort Avenue and Essex Avenue was completed this week.
Work is expected to begin next week to replace the next leg of pipe between Essex Avenue and the Blynman Canal.
Going back a decade, there has been at least one water main break a year on the Boulevard section of Western Avenue.
"There's a history of breaks," said city Public Works Director Michael Hale. "The main was installed in 1904. ... Well, guess what?"
Most recently, a double dose of water pipe woes erupted beginning the afternoon of Nov. 18, with a break in a 20-inch water main in Western Avenue near Stage Fort Avenue.
Responding immediately were workers from the city's Department of Public Works and personnel from J. P. Cardillo & Son, Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., who were working on Essex Avenue installing a new water main between Western Avenue and Fleetwoods Drive.
According to Keane's detailed account, the water main repair was thought to be done by around 9 p.m., but when the DPW turned the water back on, the main broke again.
After the site was secured overnight, emergency repairs were completed the next day.