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"Dig Once" Approach to City Infrastructure Aims to Tackle Multiple Systems, Minimize Disruption

Scott Willis

The City of Syracuse is preparing to embark on a new, proactive approach to repairing sections of its aging infrastructure.  It’s the primary focus of the city’s innovation, or I-team.   Council public works committee chair Helen Hudson looks at it this way.  

"This is the new innovative approach they're taking to try to identify the problems before they become real problems."

The I-team is calling it “dig once,” and director Andrew Maxwell says they’ve identified three initial areas that need attention:  The 200 to 300 blocks of W. Jefferson St. in Armory Square; the 100 to 200 blocks of Wayne St. in the Hawley Green neighborhood, and the 500 to 600 blocks of Spencer street. 

"Working with city public works, city water department, city engineering, and really looking at all the data that we have relative to those different systems, as well as our friends at National Grid,  to understand where improvements need to be done, what are the conditions of those systems," Maxwell said. "If we look at it in a holistic way, where do we know that really all of those systems need to be refreshed in some way."

Maxwell says the idea is to do all the work at the same time so there’s less disruption to residents, businesses, and motorists down the road.  He says while they have fairly solid information that extensive work is needed in those three areas, it’s not precise.

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
The city has determined the infrastructure underneath the 100-200 blocks of Wayne St. in the Hawley Green area needs replacing.

"With these systems, some of which are very, very old, the conditions can vary a great degree," Maxwell said.  "So, until you're in the ground, you don't necessarily have a sense of absolutely has to be done, versus what might be in the ground and is actually in decent condition,  and can be maintained, repaired and kept in place."

The city is going through the process of securing $10 million in state grant money to cover the entire cost of the three projects.  Councilor Helen Hudson hopes for more state and federal support.

"I wish we could do more of it in the course of the season, but as it stands now, we would need billions of dollars just to fix all of our infrastructure throughout the city," Hudson said.  "Hopefully the federal government and the state realize not just Syracuse, but across the county, these cities need help with their infrastructure."

The I-team hopes work can begin on the projects this year.