Stretching along Bathurst Street from the Highway 7 on/off ramp north to Birch Avenue in Richmond Hill, a new watermain is being described as an ‘emergency rehabilitation’ by York Region and for good reason.
A series of breaks culminating in a major one in November 2016, which forced a partial closure of the street, accelerated the original timeline for building the $11-million, 1.4-kilometre-long, 450mm diameter line.
Underway since May 2017 and preceded by a fast-paced design, the Bathurst Street Emergency Watermain Rehabilitation includes the installation of a temporary above ground line, the use of trenchless technology and winter construction.
Bolton-based general contractor Memme Excavating Company Limited has had to battle the elements and was forced to shut down for about five days “because it was too cold and not safe to work,” says its president, Claudio Vinelli.
However, the last of six chambers was scheduled to be installed in February and the company is on track for a scheduled spring completion, he says.
Memme has a workforce 15 to 16 is on site “on any given day”. That figure doesn’t include those of Earth Boring Co. Limited, its trenchless boring subcontractor.
The history of the project dates to 2013 when a full condition assessment by the region’s environmental services department concluded the existing line was “corroded, susceptible to breaks, and needed to be replaced,” says York Region project manager Mandy Paglia.
A consultant was hired and a design completed with the intention a new one should be built in tandem with a planned widening of the street to minimize disruption and avoid a scenario where the road would have to be ripped up and utility lines relocated twice, she explains.
However, that expansion has been pushed into the future more than a few times and then the region had to contend with the fallout from the November 2016 break.
“We can’t keep repairing this line,” says Paglia in summarizing the region’s decision in January 2017 to move forward with the project ahead of the road widening.
Once that decision was reached, planning, design, and procurement moved quickly. An update and revision of the original design plans was conducted by GHD Limited, with a key focus on presenting alternatives to relocating the utilities — which will have to be moved when the road widening occurs.
That has been achieved through is the use of horizontal directional drilling under the utility lines and a number of creeks for about 900 metres or almost half the length. Open cut is being used along the rest of the route, she says.
Memme was selected from the region’s pre-qualified emergency contractors’ list and provided input into the design. Its first task was building and connecting the temporary line. Although the physical connection was not overly long, the disinfection process took about six weeks to complete, she says.
Asked how that interim utility is protected, Paglia says it has been “winterized” through the use of a heat tracing line and fiberglass wrapping.
Due to the location of the existing watermain, the new one, and the proposed location of other future infrastructure, the project also includes the (now completed) relocation of 200 metres of a storm sewer. Apart from the extreme weather conditions, a major challenge has being managing traffic congestion on Bathurst stemming from lane restrictions.
To keep area residents and businesses abreast of the project’s progress, the region has been dropping off notices at area businesses, and posting updates on its web site, and other social media platforms, says Paglia.
The watermain is on the Richmond Hill side of Bathurst which forms the boundary with the City of Vaughan. But there is one connection with that city’s infrastructure and, “since the construction affects both northbound and southbound traffic lanes, the region provides updates to both municipalities and residents living on both sides of the road.”