By David J. Hill
The Tonawanda News
TOWN OF TONAWANDA —
Like many residents here, Gigi Grizanti just wants to know how everyday life will be affected by a big sewer construction project that’s about to begin.
As Grizanti and nearly 100 other residents found out during an informational meeting Wednesday at Kenmore East High School, the answer is, it will be rather inconvenient at times, with road closures and traffic detours.
But town officials and the contractor have pledged to accommodate residents as best they can as work progresses on the first phase of the Parker-Fries Interceptor project, set to begin in earnest toward the end of the month.
“We know there’s going to be disruptions. We will work to minimize those disruptions as much as possible,” Water Resources Director Ken Maving said at the conclusion of the hour-long meeting.
The $30 million first phase is expected to take two years to complete, but project officials met with the public Wednesday to provide an update on what will happen over the next three to four months. Another information meeting will be held in September to update residents on the next several months’ activity.
Generally, crews will be working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “There may be occasions where the contractor has to go 24 hours, seven days a week to complete a specific or critical construction activity, or if there’s a problem we encounter that warrants such a commitment of effort and resources,” said Robert Lannon Jr. of CRA Infrastructure & Engineering. “We don’t expect that to be common, but the potential does exist.”
For Phase I, West Seneca-based contractor Kandey Co. will begin at the Parker pump station by digging a pit that will serve as the launch point for a tunneling machine. A large chunk of the project calls for tunneling, including going underneath the I-290.
A trench will be cut starting at Parker Boulevard and Glenalby Road, progressing down Parker at a rate of about 40 to 60 feet of pipe per day.
“During the day we will be blocking people’s driveways, but we will make any accommodations so they can get in and out while we’re working,” Kandey Co. owner Joseph Kandefer said. About a week before crews move on to the next section, they’ll hang tags on neighbors’ doors alerting them to the upcoming work. “We’ll make sure everybody’s on board and knows where we’re going to be at,” he said, adding that residents will need to be patient.
The contractor will fill in the trenches with temporary pavement, which will later be dug up to make way for the installation of a new water line. Once the new water line is in place, roads will be permanently repaved, a process Kandefer doesn’t anticipate happening for another two years.
As the project progresses, some roads will be closed to through traffic; local traffic will be able to access those roads.
“We all realize how important Parker Boulevard is for traffic flow through the Town of Tonawanda,” Maving said. “There’s only a couple of major arteries that run north and south, so we’re going to make every effort to keep that open as much as possible.”
The Parker-Fries Interceptor, a four-phase project that will proceed well into the future, will replace an existing 30-inch diameter sewer pipe with 48- and 72-inch pipe.
The existing piping is more than 70 years old and badly corroded in spots, Maving said. In addition, the project has been necessitated by state and federal mandates that municipalities eliminate their overflows from sanitary sewers to the storm sewers.
In response to a resident’s question, the Water Resources Department’s Maving said the project is being paid for by town residents through bonds.
However, the town, through CRA Infrastructure & Engineering, will receive subsidized funding from the state’s Environmental Facilities Corp., which provides assistance to municipalities undergoing environmental projects. Half of the interest rate will be paid through that fund.
“It’s significant savings,” Maving said. “Through the entire project, and I’m talking about all four phases, that could mean savings of over $30 million to the residents. But it is paid for by the Town of Tonawanda taxpayers, no question about it.”
Residents can obtain project updates by visiting ParkerFriesProject.com. In addition, an information line has been set up. Residents can call 362-8800 to file a complaint or question.
James Milks will be the on-site point person for the public.
Residents with questions on how construction activities will impact Ken-Ton students and busing can call John O’Connor at 874-8611. Water and sewer related calls should be directed to the Water and Sewer Division at 874-0490.
Highway Department Superintendent Brad Rowles said the town will accommodate garbage and recycling collection. “It’s going to be a work in progress, but I think we’re going to make it work,” he said.
Construction activities are not expected to affect U.S. mail delivery. Residents using public transportation will be advised to visit the NFTA’s website at nfta.com for the latest information.