AMSTERDAM — The city is set to close part of Church Street Monday to enable the Department of Public works to replace a collapsed clay pipe sewer line.
City Engineer Richard Miller said city officials discovered the collapsed sanitary sewage pipe last week, but have needed state Department of Transportation approval to shut down a portion of Church Street, which is also state Route 67, in order to fix it.
The city plans to replace the 225-foot sewer line “from manhole to manhole” with a modern PVC pipe, but city officials had no cost estimates for the project available Friday.
“It’ll have to come out of the sewer contingency fund,” Miller said.
Miller said starting Monday, part of Church Street/Route 67 that runs parallel to Prospect Street will be shut down, but access to City Hall will not be cut off.
The collapsed clay pipe, likely built in the 1890s, is currently discharging an estimated 5 gallons of untreated sewage per minute into the Chuctanunda Creek.
“Once we shut the road down, we’ll put a bypass system in,” Miller said. “[The project] will start Monday and will hopefully be done by Friday at the latest.”
Miller said he does not believe weather conditions, or the depth of frost into the soil this year played a role in the pipe collapsing because the pipes are buried 5 to 6 feet deep in the ground. He said the collapse was likely just due to age. He said the city has many similarly aged sewer lines throughout the city.
“They’re ancient pipes,” he said.
Amsterdam received $1.9 million in the form of two state grants in May to help fund reconstruction Church Street.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, secured $900,000 from a program offered under the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. State Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, secured a $1 million grant from the state Department of Transportation.
Miller said none of the $1.9 million in funding will be used to replace any sewer lines running under Church Street. He said the money can only be used to rebuild the section of Church Street between Cornell Street and Clizbe Avenue. A probe of the sewer lines underneath that section, using “TV cameras,” has shown the lines don’t need to be replaced.
“The money is all going to be spent on the complete reconstruction of the road,” he said.
He said there is no time table for when the rebuild of the street will occur because the city is waiting on approvals from the state before it can draw the funding.
“There have to be agreements with each one. We have not targeted any [groundbreaking] until the money comes in and we’ve got to see when the money is available,” Miller said.
Last year the city did mill down 1.5 inches of asphalt and repave a portion of Church Street, which is subject to heavy tractor trailer traffic.
“The street was getting really rough, so we repaved it,” Miller said.
Fourth Ward Alderman David Dybas, who represents the part of Church Street set for reconstruction, said he believes the city’s plans are inadequate and the state should take over control of the road and rebuild it to the specifications of a state highway to accommodate the heavy truck traffic. He said that during the Tuesday fire at 202 Church St. there was no adequate detour set up around the site of the fire, leading to heavy truck traffic on residential streets.
“Twenty-six wheel trucks run up and down this street unmercifully. The infrastructure on this road was put in many decades ago, and it takes a beating each day, every day,” he said.
Dybas said he’s holding a Church Street community meeting in the city’s annex building on Feb. 1, and inviting representatives from area state representatives and U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko’s office. He said he’s hoping to get a representative from the state DOT to come to the meeting to explain the state’s view of the city street/state road.