They’re ba-ack! Con Edison hopes to start work this Sunday evening connecting gas to our new gas main, representatives from Con Edison (ConEd) informed Islanders in a presentation before the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Wednesday night. Although they are still awaiting final permission from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), that permission seems likely. ConEd was clear that none of this work will impact Island gas service.
ConEd explained that phase one was the ‘‘discovery phase.’’ They did excavation work to uncover the pipe and two risers that come up from the Ravenswood tunnel. In the process, they uncovered pipes from the early 1900’s, back from when gas was manufactured.
The goal was to “address old piping, get rid of it, get all new piping, put in new risers to the Island and tie it into new pipes,” explained Anthony Carullo, ConEd’s Chief Construction Inspector.
Traffic and Parking
Like last time, ConEd is very cognizant of traffic protection. They were able to maintain two lanes of traffic the first go- round and will do the same this time. Caru explained, “Flaggers will always be there for pedestrian safety,” adding, “Our goal is to disturb you as little as possible while completing this pretty major task.
Where parking is concerned, the 12 spots on the west side of the street next to Westview will be impacted while ConEd maintains at least two lanes of traffic. They made very clear those parking spots will only be unavailable when they are working, but there will be times when they are working 24-hour-days.
The other community priority is noise. Caru said, “From what I know we had no complaints the first time, so we are going to proceed the same way, using noise mitigation and [what they call] Sh alarms.” He explained, “Rather than the beeping you hear that drives you crazy, we took that out and go with strobes and something that goes shh shhh shhh. It doesn’t travel as far but it’s still safe for our workers. We have to protect our workers and they have to know when we’re backing up,” adding, “We did an extensive noise study the first go-round.”
The plan is to start Sunday with excavation. ConEd predicts three to four weeks to complete that part of the work, including, as Caru says, “plate everything over, keep everything safe, and have a better system of gas.”
The piping work will start next and is temperature- dependent. It needs to be steadily over 50 degrees to do that work and they expect to commence it in the middle of May. It should also take three or four weeks. They have built in buffers to their timing estimates.
ConEd Project Specialist Tom Warner explained why we need this. He said it will, “improve aging infrastructure, reduce future maintenance, and increase gas capacity.”
Our pipes are older than our residents; some were installed all the way back in 1902 and some in 1940. Back then, according to Warner, “We manufactured gas and when we went to natural gas there wasn’t a lot [of development] on the Island.” Although those old pipes were able to accommodate medium pressure only, that was okay because there was not a need for more gas.
But, as the Island grew, demand grew. According to John Powers, Engineering Section Manager at ConEd, “Medium pressure comes at 350 lbs knocked down to 15 lbs and minimizes the amount of gas we can supply to you at that pressure.” He explained, “High pressure we call a ‘99 lb system.’”
According to Powers, “We ran a new [gas] supply from Manhattan, at 71st Street and York Avenue. We’ve done that work already, we are underneath your Island and will connect to that.” We will have high- pressure gas coming from Manhattan.
Powers said that after they connect the gas into our new gas main, they will transfer 15 buildings off the medium- pressure system and on to the high- pressure one.
As of now, there is no gas in our new Main Street main. Once it is energized, it will run all the way down to Cornell.
The transfers will take another three to four weeks but they do not mandate any roadway interruption.
At the end of next year, that medium- pressure gas from Ravenswood will get turned into high pressure and we will have two high pressure sources.
Now, if we were to have a problem with the regulator in Queens, there is no contingency that would require that, “we’d have to shut the whole Island down.”