Amsterdam water main repairs complete, Locust Ave. to reopen after valve installation

Four workers stand around a large hole with heavy equipment

City of Amsterdam employees work on repairing a 18” water main break on Locust Avenue in Amsterdam last Thursday. The water main break originally occurred on the evening of Monday, Jan. 30, was repaired, and broke in a different larger location. Repairs are now complete, as of Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, but a portion of the road is expected to remain closed through this week until a valve can be installed on one of the still exposed lines, in order to limit the potential impact of future issues.

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AMSTERDAM — Repairs to a broken water main on Locust Avenue are complete, but a portion of the road in Amsterdam is expected to remain closed through this week until a valve can be installed on one of the still exposed lines, in order to limit the potential impact of future issues.

On Tuesday, the Common Council approved the transfer of $60,000 from the city’s contingency budget to fund expenses related to the water main breaks last week.

The transfer will cover the roughly $30,000 in materials needed to repair the broken water main, but the total amount was a rough approximation to get funds in place to at least cover a portion of the still-unknown cost of emergency excavation work by Pareene Contracting needed to reach the bottom of the water main.

“We do not have an excavator large enough to do that, so I had to make a call on an emergency basis,” City Engineer Mike Clark said.

City crews spent much of last week working on multiple breaks to the lines along Locust Avenue near Veterans Park servicing the northern sections of Amsterdam.

Closing valves to the immediately surrounding area in order to contain the impacts from the break seemingly caused pressure on the aging lines which caused further damage farther along, although Clark could not pinpoint the exact cause of the initial failure.

“It could have been leaking for many months and it just surfaced during the cold weather, but once we exposed it we realized there was a significant leak and we had to address it,” Clark said.

Cold weather throughout the week that dipped into subzero temperatures on Friday made repairs especially challenging.

“Thank you to our water department and anyone who was out there working,” 1st Ward Alderwoman Kelly Quist-Demars said. “It was a terrible weekend to have that happen.”

“It’s awful tough for them,” Clark agreed. “The iron is cold, it’s wet and freezing.”

Work was delayed by supply chain issues and the need to order unusually sized materials to repair the 18-inch lines. Repairs were finally completed on Friday and a related boil advisory was lifted on Sunday.

The city alerted impacted residents over social media and by distributing paper notices when normal water service was restored, but email and text message notifications via Nixle could not be sent until Monday morning due to an apparent system outage.

Locust Avenue has been closed from Wallin Street to Vanderveer Street since Wednesday when extensive excavation work, stretching across traffic lanes, was performed to access the water main.

The temporary closure of Locust is expected to remain in effect until at least later this week to allow a valve to be installed on lines servicing the southern sections of the city which can be used to shut down service to a smaller area in the event of an issue.

“While it’s exposed it makes sense to do it,” Clark said. “Having more valves especially on the larger lines allows us to isolate a much smaller section and impact far fewer people.”

That work should not cause any disruption in water services. The excavated portions of Locust Avenue will subsequently be filled in and the road will initially be reopened to traffic with compacted gravel until it can be repaved in the spring.

“We’re going to get a far better repair on it than doing it any other way,” Clark said. “It’s such a big area that you just can’t patch it.”

Officials praised the work of all city crews and workers involved in making the vital repairs in frigid weather.

“They did an outstanding job under very, very tough conditions,” Mayor Michael Cinquanti said. “We’ve received a lot of phone calls at City Hall thanking the crew for the work on Locust.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

By Ashley Onyon

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