By CBSNewYork Team

NEWARK (CBSNewYork)Newark is ahead of schedule replacing its utility pipes, which carry water to residents and businesses.

Lincoln Avenue was busy with construction vehicles as Newark city workers finished patching the street where a lead service line was replaced with copper pipes. Residents were thankful for the progress.

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“Something got done about it, finally … for our families, for our future,” Sammy Ramos said.

Kareem Adeem, the city’s director of sewer and water, is in charge of the lead eradication infrastructure project.

“We didn’t kick this thing down the road,” he told CBS2’s Meg Baker.

The project was expected to take more than 10 years. The city says now it should be finished in under three years.

“Currently, we’re at 22,315 lead pipes that the city replaced. We’ve actually touched 28,000 homes in the city, and we’re on last few hundred homes, they’re scattered all throughout the city, that we’re trying to just verify that they don’t have lead,” Adeem said.

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Adeem says the pandemic slowed things down a bit. Some people didn’t want to allow access, but now, they are in the homestretch.

“We also had the workforce to come out and get the job done,” he said.

City residents were hired and trained for the work and are now being hired for their expertise to work in other areas of the state and country.

Sen. Bob Menendez calls this a huge accomplishment.

“They inherited the challenges of lead pipes that had ultimately created lead poisoning for children and families, and when you have lead poisoning, it affects that child for years to come,” he said.

He says there is a significant amount of money in the federal infrastructure bill for safe drinking water so that others facing this same challenge have the funds to fix the problem.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team