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Work to ease frozen water pipes moves ahead in Falls

NIAGARA FALLS – Frozen waterlines have been a nightmare for residents on 72nd Street for the past two years, but now an approximately $676,000 project to address the problem is ahead of schedule.

Another problem area, Independence Avenue, will go out to bid soon, Mayor Paul A. Dyster told the City Council this week.

He said the approaching winter freeze will not affect remaining work on the projects.

The 72nd Street project involved replacing the entire water main, roughly 3,000 feet of pipe, and needed to be done during the time when general construction work could be completed, Dyster told The Buffalo News. But he said the Independence Avenue project is designed so that it can go forward even in the winter weather.

“It does not require digging up the entire street,” Dyster said of Independence Avenue. “We are going to dig where the individual water services join up to the main under the street.”

He told the City Council that pressure tests are being done for the south section of 72nd Street, from Girard to Stephenson avenues.

Dyster said that in the 500 and 600 blocks of 72nd Street, between Girard and Niagara Falls Boulevard, where “frozen services were rampant,” the short lines on the east side of the street are done, the main has been tested and leak tests have been done. He said work is continuing on the long water main services on the opposite side of the street, which need to be connected under the road.

“The 72nd Street project is on schedule and maybe a little ahead of where we hoped to be,” Dyster told the Council.

He said after these two major areas are done, work crews will be looking at individual areas that may have had problems.

“Right now we are trying to get these two major clusters out the door,” he told the Council.

He noted that the freeze problems didn’t occur until February last year.

One Independence Avenue resident appeared before the Council and asked what would be done if the work does not solve the problem.

City Council Chairman Andrew P. Touma said, “We are hoping that the plan we have in place fixes the problem. There’s no guarantee, but we are certainly going to give it a try. The good news is that this work can be conducted throughout the winter.”

The Council allocated casino funds for the project, but is hoping to have some of the costs reimbursed by the state as well as the Niagara Falls Water Board, a separate agency from the city that owns and is responsible for water and sewer infrastructure.

Dyster said in September that the city went ahead with the project to avoid people on 72nd Street having to wait for the outcome of a long legal wrangle over who is responsible for paying to fix the problem.

The Water Board supported the city’s application to the state Water Grant Program of the state Environmental Facilities Corp. If approved, the grant would fund up to 60 percent of the project’s cost. A hardship provision could raise the reimbursement to 75 percent.