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Mike Anderson, Deseret News
Crews work on replacing a pipeline in Ogden Canyon on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. The pipeline is 98 years old, and a portion of it burst in January 2008.

OGDEN — A water pipeline that serves two-thirds of Ogden and part of Weber County is receiving a major overhaul.

The 98-year-old pipes buried in Ogden Canyon have leaks, and a portion of the pipeline burst in January 2008, which left nearly 4,000 of people without water and forced four area schools to cancel classes.

Crews are removing the old pipes and installing new pipeline in the canyon. There will be only one lane open through the canyon right during construction.

"We're really restricted in the space that we have," said Mike Whittaker of Whittaker Construction, which is working on the project.

For construction crews, that means an unusually tight working area. Whittaker said crews will use a new device that will move inside the pipeline, cutting through the bottom. The "pipe-bursting" system, as Whittaker calls it, will expand the old pipe and allow the new pipe to be installed directly in its place.

"It certainly needs to be surgical," he said. 

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The project will be conducted in four phases. The first phase focuses on the oldest stretch of pipe. Workers have already capped off the supply, putting a temporary system in place.

The canyon gets extremely cold, and although winter is not an ideal time for construction, city officials said it was important to get the project started so the water pipeline could be back up to speed in time for summer.

"Whenever a pipe breaks unexpectedly, it's very difficult and expensive to replace," said Ogden city engineer Justin Anderson.

City officials said the project is expected to cost about $8 million to $9 million.