NYC Resources 311 Office of the Mayor

Bypass Tunnel & Shaft Construction

Years of comprehensive inspections, testing, and study indicate that cracking and leakage are occurring in the aqueduct where it passes through limestone, a rock more susceptible to wear and tear.

The leaks release between 15 and 35 million gallons of water a day, depending on the amount of water the aqueduct is carrying.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will build a two-and-a-half mile bypass tunnel around a portion of the aqueduct with significant leaks. Other leaks in the Town of Wawarsing, in Ulster County, will be repaired from within the existing tunnel. The bypass tunnel will run east from the Town of Newburgh, in Orange County, to the Town of Wappinger, in Dutchess County, and will be constructed while continuing to meet water demand without interruption. The construction of the bypass tunnel and repairs to the lining in Wawarsing as well as other sections of the aqueduct will ensure that DEP can continue to deliver high-quality drinking water every day for decades to come.

At a Glance

  • In 2013, DEP began construction on two new shafts in the Towns of Newburgh and Wappinger.
  • Using a tunnel boring machine, DEP will begin construction of a bypass tunnel in 2015
  • In late 2021, the existing aqueduct will be taken out of service and emptied. Then, the bypass tunnel will be connected on both ends to the aqueduct and permanently replace the leaking
  • ƒƒDuring the shutdown, workers will also access a section of tunnel in the Town of Wawarsing to reinforce and reline the existing aqueduct.
  • DEP is working to ensure minimal impact to its customers and neighbors during the aqueduct repairs.

What to Expect

The current phase of the Bypass Tunnel project ─ 2013 to 2016 ─ involves construction of two vertical holes or shafts that will connect each end of a new bypass tunnel. Construction activities are planned for Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Two significant activities will occur during this phase of the project. Site preparation involves small controlled blasting of rock (up to three small blasts per day) to regrade and provide suitable access to the site. Next, workers will excavate the shafts, which will require deeper blasting (typically once every 2-3 days). Blasting will occur during regular construction hours until September 2016. Workers will dispose of debris at sites within five miles of the blast location to minimize truck traffic. No impact to water service or quality is expected during shaft construction.

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