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.
Hale, meanwhile, went to city leaders to seek authorization for a replacement.
Keane says two 20-inch water mains in Western Avenue are critical pieces of infrastructure that convey water from the Bond Hill Storage Reservoir for residents and businesses.
Hale was authorized to direct Cardillo to replace the obsolete outside water main in Western Avenue between Stage Fort Avenue and the Blynman Canal with a new ductile iron water main with new valves and new hydrants.
Once all of the pipe is installed, the new water main will be flushed, pressure tested, disinfected, flushed again, and then activated.
Keane says most of the work for both Essex Avenue and Western Avenue should be finished around Christmas and that next year work will be done to restore the roads and sidewalks.
According to Keane, the original Essex Avenue contract for the installation of approximately 4,700 linear feet of 20-inchwater pipe and appurtenances was valued at about $1.1 million.
With change orders for unforeseen circumstances and utility conflicts, as well as costs for engineering, police, and roadway restoration, the value of the Essex Avenue project may eventually run to $1.7 million to $1.9 million, he estimates.
Keane says the emergency work in Western Avenue for the installation of approximately 2,000 linear feet of 20-inch water pipe and appurtenances will probably amount to about $500,000 to $700,000, including construction, engineering, police, and restoration.
Francis X. Quinn can be reached at 978-283-7000 x 3455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.