By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – The image situated on Colden Street at the Corner of Second Street in the City of Newburgh was awe-inspiring.
A 3500 pound long cylinder-shaped object, this Tunnel Boring Machine (TBI) is primed to soon do something that will significantly alter the infrastructure for sewage waste disposal as well as the critical, continuing cleanup of the Hudson River. Once it is launched into a nearby massive hole, it will bore into the embedded rock, producing a tunnel while ultimately creating direly needed sewer storage space. The infrastructure announcement was made Thursday at the actual site, officially unveiling the next phase of the approximately $30 million North Interceptor Sewer Project, which started in August, 2022.
“This phase will involve 6800 linear feet, cutting a tunnel through rock, and enabling the City of Newburgh to convey more sewer to the Waste Water Treatment Center,” said Jason Morris, Commissioner of Public Works and City Engineer. “This project will not only renew infrastructure, but it will help the revitalization of the City as well as the Hudson River, reducing waste by about 56 billion gallons per year.”
The lofty, far-reaching project has been a chief priority of many in the City of Newburgh, as well as its surrounding areas, for some time. Among those who feel passionate about its overall impact is State Assemblyman, Jonathan Jacobson, who was on hand offering remarks at Thursday’s announcement.
“As you all know, this is one of the projects that have been very important to me since I entered public service,” said Jacobson, who also emphasized the new attitude in people that evolved from this venture: Not can, but how we can get this done. “Too often we give attention to things when they don’t work out; however, when something goes right, such as this, we really need to bring attention to it; this will be at no cost to the taxpayers and is really tremendous, offering many advantages with the new infrastructure.”
Made possible through the dedicated, unified efforts of both state and federal partners to secure multiple grants, it’s also one of the first projects to be funded in New York State by the Bi-partisan Infrastructure Law.
“This is a shining example of state investment leveraged by federal funding that is exactly the vision, benefitting the New York State community, Government Hochul laid out in her State of the Union Address which involves $500 million for Clean Water Projects like this one,” pointed out Kelly Turturro, Regional Director for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “Water quality and the facing challenges of the ever-changing climate are going to continue to be important.”
Another speaker, Dan Shapley of the environmental organization, Riverkeeper, pitched the question, “Why does all of this matter?”
Shapley’s reply, filled with gems inherent in the iconic Hudson River: The Annual Great Newburgh to Beacon Hudson River Swim which attracts 200 plus swimmers, the possibility of Newburgh having a river pool like Beacon does, the reason so many inhabit the Hudson Valley, quality of water for White Bass, and simply overall quality of life for all who enjoy the landmark’s water, added even more merit to the magnitude of the day’s announcement.
The project, taking place this entire year, coincides with the 50th Anniversary of The Clean Water Act, and is expected to be completed in the beginning of 2024.