Community

When crews begin digging into Eastern Parkway later this fall to repair a major water pipe, the work will likely cause headaches and hang-ups.

Detours, lane closures and traffic snarls are inevitable during each of the $23 million project’s three phases, the first of which is set to begin in November and stretch eastward about two miles from Eastern Parkway near Poplar Level Road to Lexington Road and Grinstead Avenue via Willow Avenue. That’s according to Kelley Dearing Smith, spokeswoman for the Louisville Water Company.

But Metro Council members who met Tuesday for a hearing on the project didn’t offer much sympathy for residents expecting traffic troubles.

“We’re going to have to suck it up, and we’re going to have to adjust,” said Councilman Tom Owen, a District 8 Democrat.

He said residents need to be informed about the project before they find themselves caught in a traffic jam.

“We’re going to hold your hand when it’s happening, but we can’t make the disruption go away,” he said.

Owen’s district includes a bulk of the project’s work area. He echoed sentiments from officials with the water company that the project is a much-needed replacement effort.

The main could falter if it’s not replaced, Smith said, which would leave residents without water, as was the case in three breaks in recent years near Crittenden Drive, the University of Louisville and Tyler Park. Smith said tests following those breaks revealed additional leaks.

Councilwoman Marianne Butler, a District 15 Democrat, praised water officials for getting the word out well before work begins.

“This is a proactive move on the water company to ensure that we have high-quality water year round,” she said.

Butler is a former spokeswoman for the Louisville Water Company. She currently works for as a community initiatives manager for Louisville Gas and Electric.

Main Dates to 1920s

The existing main is a 48-inch cast iron pipe that transmits about 15 million gallons of water daily from the reservoir in Crescent Hill westward. The pipe dates back to the 1920s. Such pipes are designed to last about 100 years. Once replaced, it won’t need replacing for another century, Smith said.

Crews will employ a “push-pull pit” method, which will allow the new, 42-inch steel pipe to be fitted inside the larger existing pipe. This will require disruptions on fewer miles of roadway and is a considerably less invasive form of work, Smith said.

She called the project one of “the most unique engineering projects we’ve ever done.”

About 50 trees are expected to be lost during the work, but for every tree destroyed at least two more will be planted, Smith said. The project has been in the works for about a year. It includes replacing roughly 6.6 miles of pipe.

Louisville Water officials have met with representatives from Metro Public Works, TARC, Jefferson County Public Schools and the council to discuss the project. A spokesman for TARC said transit officials would “develop detours and get word out closer to the [project] start.”

Following phases will also last from November to April, as demand for water is lowest during this time, Smith said. Residents can access project updates and detour details online.

Jacob Ryan is the Metro Affairs reporter for WFPL.