Saturday, September 9, 2017

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Aqueduct bypass construction begins

Sapienza stands in front of the giant drill that will bore the tunnel

TOWN OF NEWBURGH – The New York City Department of Environmental Protection welcomed the public on Friday to witness the start of excavation for the Delaware Aqueduct Bypass Tunnel.

The $1 billion project is designed to fix two leakages in the 85-mile aqueduct, which is the longest tunnel in the world. The most crucial leak will be fixed by a 2.5-mile bypass tunnel that will be drilled 600 feet below the Hudson River between Newburgh and Wappinger.

Once the project is completed, millions of New Yorkers will have greater access to clean drinking water. The project is said to be the largest repair project in the 175-year history of New York City’s drinking water supply.

“This is one the biggest repair projects that we’ve ever done,” said Vincent Sapienza, acting commissioner of the New York City DEP. “We think we have a great solution that will have a minimal impact on the water supply in New York City. The repair that is going to be made will last a century, so we really think it was the right thing to do.”

The tunnel will be drilled by a state-of-the-art tunnel boring machine with construction to begin next week and last approximately four months.

The tunnel boring machine (or TBM) has been named Nora to honor noteworthy suffragist and civil engineering pioneer Nora Stanton Blatch Deforest Barney. She was the granddaughter of revolutionary women’s rights leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the first woman in the U.S. to earn an engineering degree, which she received from Cornell University in 1905. Descendants of Barney spoke at the announcement ceremony of their ancestor’s legacy.

“My family and I welcome Nora, the tunnel boring machine, into our family,” said Coleen Jenkins, Barney’s granddaughter. “We embrace Nora, a family member as she will follow family tradition of groundbreaking.”

Jenkins’ son and Barney’s great-grandson, Eric Jenkins-Sahlin, said there is much work still left to be done regarding encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM fields.

“To put it in context, there has been a lot of progress since [Barney received her engineering degree in 1905],” he said, “but today, women continue to earn only about 20 percent of the engineering degrees in the states. There’s a lot of room for increased participation and inclusion of women and people of color in the workforce in engineering and STEM fields, but I think it’s great to commemorate women who have made contributions and I don’t think that happens enough.”

The DEP has been overseeing the leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct since the 1990s. In 2010, a plan was announced to fix the leaks starting in Newburgh. This project is expected to create nearly 200 jobs over the next eight years, most of which promise to be filled by local workers as per and agreement between the DEP and the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trade Council.

 


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