Major Peninsula water main upgrade project in the pipeline 

An aging Peninsula water main running down sections of El Camino Real and Crystal Springs Road will get a $32.5 million upgrade starting later this month.

The 19-mile Crystal Springs Pipeline No. 2 is set to undergo major seismic upgrades and repairs with construction possibly lasting through January 2013, said Susan Hou, the project’s manager with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The longest segment of repairs — 3.2 miles of pipe — lies between Hillsborough and Burlingame along busy El Camino Real. Engineers will dig 11 pits along the thouroughfare, through which they will thread new pipe along the existing pipe to avoid tearing up the road and causing further traffic congestion.

The SFPUC will update its Twitter account — @SFWater — with alternative traffic routes along California Drive, adjacent to the Caltrain rail, said Daniel Jaimes, the project’s spokesman.

Additional construction will occur between South San Francisco and Brisbane, where five segments of pipe will be replaced. Pipeline upgrades will also occur in areas of Hillsborough along Crystal Springs Road.

The pipeline, which services seven cities including San Francisco, was built in the 1930s as part of the Hetch Hetchy Water System and acts as the “final stretch” of pipe flowing water to Peninsula residents, Jaimes said.

The SFPUC, which owns the pipeline, hired San Francisco-based Ranger Pipeline to conduct the reconstruction and upgrades. The project is one of 86 in the SFPUC’s bond-funded $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program.

Though the water main will be out of commission for about two years, residents will still have water access through Crystal Springs Pipeline No. 3, Hou said.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there is a 63 percent chance of a major earthquake striking the Bay Area sometime in the next 30 years.

“That’s a pretty high percentage,” Jaimes said, adding that during such a disaster, residents need to have access to clean water.

The pipeline lies near three Bay Area fault lines — San Andreas, Hayward and Calaveras, the closest being San Andreas.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to minimize impact

Some merchants fear construction work on Crystal Springs Pipeline No. 2 in front of their El Camino Real stores will hurt their businesses.

“Especially in this economy, I’m always concerned with anything that can affect peoples businesses,” said Steve Musich, who owns about 25 percent of the Burlingame Plaza Shopping Center, near one of the future construction sites.

To alleviate any potential loss in business, the SFPUC is planning night work in various commercial areas, including the one near Burlingame Plaza, said Daniel Jaimes, a San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesman for the project.

“We’re trying to minimize everyone’s inconveniencies as much as possible,” Jaimes said.

With the pits being about the size of one roadway lane, at least one traffic lane will be closed near construction areas. Depending on the location of the actual pipeline however, one or two lanes may be closed.

The SFPUC is obligated to keep traffic moving along El Camino Real, so traffic in some cases will be rerouted to adjacent California Drive, Jaimes said.

— Alexis Terrazas

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