Water valve replacement reduces Lamar Blvd. to one lane, part of reservoir project


AUSTIN (KXAN) — North Austin drivers will notice a section of North Lamar Boulevard reduced to one lane in each direction this weekend. The lane reduction will stretch from Denson Drive to West Koenig Lane on North Lamar Boulevard for the next three days starting Friday evening.

The traffic changes are being done so Austin Water crews can work to replace a broken 48-inch water valve.

“We had to shut down this transmission main on Lamar and when closing this valve it broke,” Matt Cullen, the water department’s division manager of distribution system engineering explained. “It’s taxed the system some and it’s preventing the work from continuing so we have to get this valve fixed.”

The closing of the valve is part of a larger project, Austin Water’s North Austin Reservoir and Pump Station upgrades.

“The reservoir has been in service for over 100 years,” Cullen said. “When it was first built most of the water north of the (Colorado) river was going through that reservoir and being stored there.”

Located near the corner the busy intersection of North Lamar Boulevard and Koenig Lane, many may not even know the 1913 North Austin Reservoir is there.

“Everyone is familiar with the bulb that stands up in the air elevated storage so with the ground storage it’s a little easier to miss,” he said.

However, Austin Water officials said the reservoir remains vital. It maintains system pressure, helps transfer water, and stores water for firefighters. At present, the reservoir holds 10 million gallons of water. The new reservoir will be taller, but smaller.

“That’s because since the Hancock treatment plant and East Austin Reservoir opened in the 80s we don’t have to have 10 million gallons there, 8 million is sufficient,” Cullen said.

Other improvements include the addition of a new SCADA (systems control and data acquisition) radio tower for improved communications between the other Austin Water sites, and new fencing around the site.

The entire North Austin Reservoir and Pump Station project will take two and a half years to complete. Crews started the work this past spring.

Austin Water officials said the upgrade will not interrupt its overall services.

At present, officials expect to take the reservoir offline by early October. At that point, the demolition of the reservoir will begin. Construction is underway on a stormwater line for the site.

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