The last time some of the cast-iron water mains had been installed in downtown Durham, gangster Al Capone had been imprisoned for income tax evasion, Charles Lindbergh’s baby had been kidnapped and Amelia Earhart had become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Beginning next year, the city’s water management department will replace these aging pipes—some of them are even older, closer to 100—in the northern part of the Downtown Loop. At least eight streets, several of them major thoroughfares, will be dug up during the 18-month project: Morgan, Mangum, Roxboro, Market, Foster, Holland and Orange streets, plus Rigsbee Avenue.

Estimated cost is $6 million–$8 million.

Breaking up the asphalt could generate noise at 70–90 decibels, a range equivalent to the sound generated by a vacuum cleaner, a food blender and a power mower. (Breathing is 10 decibels; a jet taking off 80 feet away is 150 decibels, enough to rupture your eardrum.)

More than 15,000 people work at the 450 to 500 businesses downtown, according to Matthew Coppedge, chief operating officer of Downtown Durham Inc. Roughly 1,500 people live in the city center; of those about 150 reside inside the Loop.

DDI, is a nonprofit organization that advocates for economic development, safety, parking, appearance and promotion of downtown. Like the previous streetscape project, for this undertaking, it is the liaison for downtown business and residents between the city and the contractor, Kimley-Horn.

The INDY will have meeting coverage Wednesday morning. —Lisa Sorg

What City staff will present the plan at two meetings

Tonight, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6–8 p.m.

Durham Armory, 220 Foster St.

Thursday, Dec. 12, 6–7 p.m.

Blue Coffee Cafe, 202 N. Corcoran St.