In the 1870s, New York’s Brooklyn Bridge was under construction, the President of the United States was Ulysses S. Grant, and Jesse James was still robbing banks across the Great Plains.
The 1970s were marked by the premiere of M*A*S*H, the Beatles recording their last session together, and the first Boeing 747 took flight.
The City of New York was also busy installing cast iron water mains in 1870s. One particular old water main that runs underneath famed Madison Avenue served the city until the 1970s, when leaks and poor service forced the city to take the main out of service and find other routes of delivering the water.
After more than 140 years, that old 48-inch diameter water main is getting a unique overhaul.
Realizing that new technologies in infrastructure rehabilitation were coming online, the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) chose Insituform’s PuraGuard™ process to rehabilitate the water main. The PuraGuard process uses lengths of HDPE pipe that are folded and banded in place with plastic straps. The folded pipe is then inserted into the existing pipe. After the insertion is complete, the pipe is pressurized and the bands snap, allowing the pipe to return to its original shape. End fittings are attached and the pipe is put back into service.
The PuraGuard trenchless process allowed the city to carefully schedule construction periods to meet traffic and city needs, while offering a speedy construction process with minimal disruption to the city street pavement.
In 2008, New York City was able to install various lengths of pipe, ranging from 530 to 834 feet in length over seven different weeks. Overall, 5,200 feet of pipe and more than 20 city blocks were rehabilitated in 2008. After gaining experience last year, longer lengths were being fused in 2009, including a 1,000-foot length that was the longest installation on Madison Avenue to date.
“Open-cut methods would take six months (for the 1,000 feet installation),” said Christian Onyechi, engineer-in-charge of the Manhattan Infrastructure Division of DDC. “The complete rehabilitation of the (Madison Avenue) line would take decades.”
The 1,000-foot stretch of 1200mm DR 50 KWH Sclairpipe high-density polyethylene pipe was fused together with two McElroy MegaMc 1648 machines, staged side by side near 45th Street and Madison Ave. The long length of pipe will rehabilitate the existing main from 45th Street to approximately 41st on Madison Ave.
Ferguson Industrial Plastics provided the two MegaMc 1648 machines, McElroy pipe stands and two fusion technicians to help contractor Halycon Construction with the job.
While the lengths of pipe took up the majority of the right-of-way, the ability to do construction with just two openings in the street was of immense value to the city. Traffic continued to flow with minimal congestion in a single lane.
In “the city that never sleeps,” it is altogether appropriate that most of the pipe fusions and installations occurred day and night over weekends, in order to be off the road for Monday rush hour. That meant the two 1648 machines were staged in New Jersey, brought into Manhattan on Friday night and shipped back to New Jersey on Monday in the early hours.
With two machines on site, the 20 joints required for the 1,000 foot length of pipe were performed in a matter of hours, beginning at 6:20 p.m. on Saturday and completed by 2:30 a.m. on Sunday. A final tie-in was performed at 10:00 a.m. Sunday. Each machine was responsible for 500 feet of pipe, with one of those lengths being partially folded by the Insituform PuraGuard machine before the final tie-in was finally performed.
While one weekend of installation is just a speck in time, world events will come and go, but New York City’s rehabilitated water main should last exponentially into the future.