The heavy-duty street reconstruction taking place around the Financial District began back in the summer of 1999, when the New York City Department of Design and Construction (on behalf of the Department of Environmental Protection) started to replace water mains that were first installed a century ago.
The "Wall Street Area Water Main Project,"
also known as "Contract No. MED-583," brought
a big challenge right off the bat: William Street, with
its many utility lines located just below the pavement,
called for much more extensive restoration than most
water main replacements, which typically only require
the opening of a five-foot-wide trench in the street.
The already elaborate undertaking got more complicated
after September 11, 2001, when the New York City Department
of Transportation (DOT) surveyed downtown streets for
damage caused by the rescue and recovery efforts at
the World Trade Center. They decided that many of the
streets undergoing water main
construction were in critical need of a complete overhaul.
Passersby may have noticed at some construction sites in the Wall Street area what was of major concern to DOT: Steam, water, gas, sewer, electric, and telecommunications conduits had been installed and replaced so many times under the narrow streets (under which several subway lines run), that they sometimes came within inches of the roadway surface. Some of them, such as sewer mains, were easy to lower; others were more difficult, such as telephone lines, which require that thousands of individual pairs of copper wires be spliced together -- all while maintaining service for the thousands of homes and businesses in the area
five years of arduous efforts that often required workers
to carefully dig around pipes and other conduits with
shovels rather than machinery, the Wall Street Area
Water Main Project is nearing completion. Now in its
final year, ongoing work includes engineered resurfacing
of many surrounding streets that were torn up by equipment
and materials storage, as well as by heavy machinery
being parked near the reconstruction zones. (For a map
of those streets, please click
The new and improved William Street and surrounding arterials -- such as Cedar, Cliff, and Spruce Streets -- will be home to more efficient, modern underground utilities, and aboveground they will be paved smooth with new sidewalks, manholes, light poles, and traffic signs.
For more information or to subscribe to the daily update email list, visit www.outreachny.com or call community liaison Elizabeth Baptiste at (212) 791-8170.