Road Construction Ahead: it's not just a video anymore
Families buy videos for their boys called "Road Construction Ahead," "Where the Garbage Goes," and "I Dig Dirt."
Coming to a street near you, there is no need for make-believe. The West Village from 36th street to Wisconsin and on bordering cross streets is an excavation site. With noise, rocks, and asphalt trucks. Bring your earplugs. Bring a shovel. But probably not a picnic. It's just too loud.
Removing cobblestones and loading into trucks for the trip to W street NE for cleaning and reconditioning, re-paving, jackhammering into the street to lay the gas lines, digging down to replace huge water mains and feeder lines into individual houses, building new and huge ‘catch basins,’ the construction is moving east to west. Some Georgetowners are asking “Why? We thought there was a uniform progression from west to east…”
Well, there is – or was.
The current gas lines, originally installed in the 1920s, utilize a half pound of pressure per square inch. The new gas lines are on a high pressure system, running at 20 psi. In order to ‘balance the lines’, the East side of the project has to be installed at the same time that installations are happening on the Georgetown University side of the project. This high pressure system also requires a regulator to be installed at each house to allow a ‘venting’ of the system. As The Georgetown Current noted in a column earlier this week, the meter itself can remain inside unless there is a safety issue, but the regulator (much smaller) will in most cases be located outside the house.
Existing water mains made of clay which date back to 1896 (some of the oldest in the city), are being replaced. From the new water mains, copper pipes will be installed to the homeowner’s property line.
The water service pipe (public and private) connects the water main to your household plumbing.
This is the time, however, to correspond with D.C. WASA if you would like the continuation of the new pipe into your house to your main water shut off. The benefits of doing this are twofold: 1) replacing lead pipes is a good idea for health reasons and 2) the public/private coupling that joins the new copper pipe to old pipe may be a weak point in the homeowner’s system in the coming years. The general price structure is $500 plus $100/foot. One other area of concern - apparently some homeowners do not want the water pipes running through planted areas on the sidewalks (usually city property) and the District's WASA will connect further from your house IF you sign a waiver saying you will accept responsibility for the length of pipe extending from your house to the desired connection point. Have questions or need forms? Call 202.612.3400.
On a recent morning, Georgetown Univ. senior Katherine Coleman from Chicago commented that it is “REALLY noisy, and has been for weeks.” The street and sidewalk area outside her 36th street rental is a hotbed of activity. A contractor is using a sledge hammer just outside a roommate’s bedroom window to remove concrete and then lifting dirt out by the bucket to the street above, carefully working around the stairwell and bike locked to the railing. Copper pipes are being unrolled to connect to the new water main. The on duty archeologist is monitoring the buried stairwell that was uncovered when water lines were run under the surface of the street. “These steps led from the original street to the front door of the house,” archeologist Lora Hull commented. “As the road level was built up, eventually these steps were covered completely, as was the old road surface that was made up of coal, quartz, shells and organics, a ‘trash’ road.”
Katherine sighed as she looked down the current brick steps leading to her front door, and the buckets of dirt being lifted to the sidewalk. “The chancellor of the college (Georgetown) lives to the left of us, and two nuns live on the right. But we’ll be graduating in a few weeks, and leaving all of this behind…”
When do the rest of us graduate?!