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Force Water Main Project Gets Underway

First day of construction plagued with delays

Burlington’s new force water main project got underway this Monday, May 2. The project is ambitious and is expected to take 2 years to complete. 

The first construction day was plagued with unexpected challenges as water mains were broken twice and nearby residents were left without water for several hours.  Neighbors report that crews worked until nearly midnight to repair the damage and water service was restored before the morning of Tuesday, May 03, 2011.

Prior to the work on May 1st, the contractor installed air relief valves. These are permanent manholes that allow the Town to release trapped air from the system.

The force water main is Burlington’s primary sewer pipe. It connects to a main co-owned by Burlington and Woburn and runs through the city of Woburn into Winchester.   In Winchester, the pipe ties into the MWRA system. 

The $5.9 million project includes a complete rehabilitation of the pump station located on Terrace Hall Avenue. The pump station will be remodeled and outfitted with a new pump, controls and a hip roof for greater visual appeal. However, according to Town Engineer Tom Hayes, the exterior of the building will remain largely unchanged. The bulk of the investment is on the inside.

The force main is replacing the existing main, which is 50 years old and runs through the Great Meadow.  The new main will be installed along residential streets running from Terrace Hall, down Sandybrook Road, to Hemlock Lane. From Hemlock, the pipe will run the length of James Street to Lexington Street via Hope Street. From Lexington Street, the project will continue onto South Bedford Street, across the Mall Road and continue down South Bedford Street to the connection in Woburn. The route presents challenges as it crosses several streams and culverts.

The benefit to relocating the main under residential roadways is two-fold.  First, the new main will be much easier to access and thus to repair. The Great Meadow is largely inaccessible and presented maintenance challenges.  Secondly, the Great Meadow is also the location of several of the town’s well fields and it is safer to remove the possibility of a sewer main break in such a sensitive area.

The work began at the corner of Sandybrook Avenue and Hemlock Lane. The plan is to proceed toward Woburn first and then return to lay the pipes from Sandybrook back to the pumping station. This sequence allows the town to avoid road closures on Terrace Hall while school is in session.

Residents along the construction route will be inconvenienced with both road closures and water shutoffs. The water should be restored to residents each evening, barring unforeseen problems such as occurred at the beginning of the project. Notices will be sent to residents before water service is interrupted. School buses will also need to be re-routed due to road closures.

Crews will normally work from 7 am to 3 pm and work will continue through the summer and into November. The roadways will be repaved one year after the project is completed.

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