Calling this “the year of infrastructure in the downtown area,” the head of the New Canaan Department of Public Works said Monday that officials will ask for understanding from locals as long-planned and necessary water main, natural gas and sewer work gets underway.
Within the next week or so, Aquarion will start a water main installation on Main Street from Oak to Church Streets, then up Church to South Avenue and into the downtown, Public Works Director Tiger Mann said during a regular meeting of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure.
The main will run from the intersection of South and Cherry to Main Street and then all the way up Main to Locust Avenue, Mann said.
“So that entire downtown stretch, that kind of two-block, three-block stretch in the downtown, is going to be kind of difficult,” he said during the meeting, held via videoconference.
At the same time, Eversource will be installing a natural gas line on Main Street between East and Locust Avenues, and then down Locust to Forest Street, he said. Once they’re done, the town will commence sewer work.
“We are going to ask residents to be very understanding,” Mann said. “The majority of the work in the downtown will be at night, but there will still be disruptions during the day, as you can imagine.”
He added, “This is a long time in the making. It’s a couple million dollars on Aquarion’s side to do just those two, three blocks. So it’s been a long time in the making. And they have been reluctant to pull the trigger just based on the price tag but it’s necessary.”
The town’s work will involve coming in to “Insituform” a stretch of sewer pipe from the early-1900s that’s about 13 feet underground, Mann said.
“Our engineers tell us to do it after all the other work is done and then the state is going to make Eversource come in—or Aquarion, or both—and repave curb-to-curb that entire stretch, so our downtown basically from Cherry to Locust, repave curb-to-curb, hopefully by the end of the season,” he said.
Committee members asked whether the work would affect local schools (no) and whether fire officials have been consulted regarding fire hydrants (the fire chief is well aware of the project and the biggest disruption will come when Eversource is directly in front of the firehouse itself).
Committee member Neil Budnick, from the Board of Finance, called the collective work “a big job.” He asked at what point residents would be alerted to the concentrated work in the downtown.
Mann said, “I told Aquarion to come into play right after July 4 and then try to get the downtown pushed while everyone hopefully is able to vacate this year, in the summer.”
“So we are going to allow Eversource to work—they are working at night on upper Main Street, while Aquarion is working on lower Main Street. Only because if we delay Aquarion too long they won’t be able to finish in time. So the feeling is let them work on lower Main Street and Church Street, while we are working on upper Main Street with Eversource. Then Eversource gets out of the way and Aquarion comes through.”
The biggest problem with Aquarion is that the water company will need to put in “temporary services,” Mann said.
“So there will be mains running in shoulders, similar to what they had this past year on lower Main Street, to service all the buildings while they are taking the main out,” he said. “Because they take the main out, and put it in and hook it up all in one shot. So that will be a little bit difficult. So you will see mains in the shoulder for the duration. But we have to finish. Because if we don’t finish, obviously you can’t winterize that.”