Holyoke Highlands water main project to commence

  • A fire destroyed a house at 68 Fairfield Ave. in Holyoke on Sept. 28, 2019. At the time, firefighters had difficulty drawing water to battle the blaze because of water pressure problems in the neighborhood. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/5/2021 9:01:43 PM

HOLYOKE — The city will soon begin work on a significant water main replacement project in the Highlands neighborhood.

The Holyoke Water Works project is intended to address water pressure problems in old pipes where tuberculation — the buildup of mounds of rust — shrinks the diameter of the pipe. That can be a problem for firefighters — a fact highlighted in the fall of 2019, when the Holyoke Fire Department had difficulties drawing water to battle a disastrous house fire on Fairfield Avenue.

“The primary importance of the project is fire protection,” Holyoke Water Works General Manager David Conti said Wednesday. “And, as a secondary benefit, water quality.”

Fairfield Avenue will be part of the water main replacement, as will Morgan, Pearl and Nonotuck streets. Loomis Avenue and small segments of Pleasant and Northampton streets are also included in the project, which is expected to last into the fall. Final pavement restoration will occur next spring.

The project — contracted to Caracas Construction and funded by a state Department of Environmental Protection fund — is phase two of a series of water improvement projects in the city. The first phase included similar work in the Flats and South Holyoke neighborhoods. The water main replacements have been completed in those areas, with surface restoration work expected to be completed in June, Conti said.

Conti said that a second part of phase two is currently in design, and will include water main replacements on Hampden, Dwight and Portland streets. That work has been put out to bid, and will begin in 2022. A third phase of replacements will begin in 2023, he added.

“A lot of this distribution system work has been a long time coming,” Conti said. “We tried to target different areas of the city so that we address the known deficiencies — projects we could not have tackled with our own forces, projects that require competitive bidding and contractors to do the work.”

In 2018, the City Council approved a $13.4 million bond to address the longtime problem of low water flow in certain neighborhoods. The bond was for 22 projects identified as “high priority” in the city.

For residents of the Highlands, the work will mean traffic delays and detours as the project is underway. Holyoke Water Works and Holyoke Gas & Electric said in an announcement that they intend to notify residents in the work areas if their service will be impacted by the project.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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