, Gloucester, MA

July 31, 2013

Editorial: Water tunnel project a good investment for city taxpayers

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — There are times when Gloucester residents can — and should — question city spending practices, especially when it comes to shelling out some $2.5 million for what amounts to a water pipe project.

But the Annisquam River tunnel project sure isn’t one of them. And in this case, residents were actually able to see that their tax dollars were well spent.

Designed to replace the aging Spooner Tunnel pipes, the new 1,200-foot PVC, or polyvinyl chloride pipeline spotlighted in Monday’s Page 1 story should go a long way toward resolving some of Gloucester’s notorious longtime water problems. And it should finally provide a measure of safety against further water man breaks along Stacy and Boulevard and elsewhere once the new line is in full service beginning in October.

So it was good to see city Department of Public Works water crews take the biggest and most visible step yet toward completing the project Monday by essentially pulling the pipe through the new tunnel to connect on the Essex Avenue side.

The new, giant water main will serve some 70 percent of Gloucester’s residents — including everyone on the city’s island side of the river, and should continue to carry water from Bond Hill to residents for at least 200 years, according to city water engineer Larry Durkin. That’s right, 200 years — nearly double the age of many of the pipes city crews have had to service in the last decade.

Too often, it seems, Gloucester has tried to pull together projects on this level and seen them either placed on hold or simply fall by the wayside. Indeed, it now seems clear that the largest hurdle to the needed Beauport Gloucester LLC hotel project is the city’s own bungling on the Fort infrastructure project that developers Jim Davis of New Balance and Cruiseport Gloucester’s Sheree Zizik need.

But this $2.5 million project — no doubt eased in part by a lack of state and federal waterways red tape— required only city conservation commission permits. And it will both better serve the city’s residents, and allow the city to upgrade its service without disrupting the environment or impacting the river in any clear way.

From Durkin and city DPW Director Mike Hale to tunnel designer Brierley Associates and contractor Directional Technologies Inc., all involved with this project deserve best wishes for a smooth finish — and kudos for a job well done.