BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) A portion of Hertel Avenue will soon be closing to make way for a "Smart Sewer' project which will eventually reduce the amount of human waste that ends up in the Great Lakes.
"What we would ask is that you be really patient with the folks that are out here during the construction," said Oluwole OJ McFoy, the general manager of the Buffalo Sewer Authority. he says three blocks of Hertel Avenue will close on Tuesday between Foundry Street and Military Road, and it will stay closed for six months.
"We have two eight-foot diameter sewers underneath the road and what we'll be doing is putting in a control structure," said McFoy, who notes that the huge underground concrete box will have a series of computerized gates allowing the Buffalo Sewer Authority to hold back up to a million gallons of water at a time during a heavy rainstorm, when rainwater sometimes mixes with sewage in the underground pipes.
Currently, during a heavy rainstorm, all that mix of water ends up dumping out more than a mile away into Cornelius Creek, and then right out into the Niagara River near Ontario Street. During heavy rainstorms, it does carry some sewage into the Great Lakes system.
The new gates will buy enough time during a storm to get more of that mix directly to the sewage treatment plant. "We're also blessed with the second largest treatment facility in the state of new York that has a capacity during wet weather of 563 million gallons per day. So we have a capacity at the plant. Our problem has been to get that water to the plant to be treated."
This $4 million 'Smart Sewer' project will be paid for with state and federal funding. Computerized boxes like these have already been installed on Bird Avenue Lang Avenue, Smith Street and North Bailey, and plans call for about ten more.
For the drivers along Hertel near Military Road, and the residents along the Gladstone Street detour route, it will be long six months. "But this project, when it's done, will have such an environmental benfit to the city of Buffalo that we hhope that you'll be patient enough with us," said McFoy.