Construction interruptions, obstructions dreaded, embraced

Road Work AheadEast Arlington Residents and businesses will have from 48 to 72 hours notice of interruptions to water service or driveway access during the reconstruction of Mass. Ave., according to state and construction-company officials at Monday’s Mass. Ave. construction meeting.

Although this is a big project, it seeks to have a small footprint, with only 100 feet of road affected at any time during the first two construction phases.

Utility and sidewalk work will proceed block-by-block, affecting abutters while the work on each block is under way. Both of these phases should take about a week to complete a 100-foot block and move on to the next, according to Gregory Oswitt of contractor J.H. Lynch & Sons.

Abutters and others should direct questions and requests to Nathaniel Cabral-Curtis, the community liaison for the project, at (617) 482-7080 x236 or by email.

Abutters and possibly other contiguous homes may lose water service for less than a day sometime during the first phase of construction, when fire hydrants and other utilities will be moved, according to Oswitt.

This phase will start in the next month on the northern side of Mass. Ave. across from Pond Lane and move east, then repeat itself on the south side from west to east, pausing over the winter and ending sometime next year. Water service will be serially interrupted as the project advances.

Affected homes and business will receive 72 hours notice. Business that rely on a reliable water supply may request that work on their block take place at night.

Driveways and Sidewalk Access
Crews will rebuild the sidewalks during the second construction phase, which may require driveway closures of as long as 3 days while concrete cures. However, temporary access may still be possible during this period, which may also be less than 3 days.

The construction, and abutter inconveniences, will proceed block-by-block in the same pattern as the utility construction: east-to-west north-south. Only the block under construction will be affected, and only on the side under construction.

Sidewalks will generally be traversable during construction but there will be walkways and gravel patches. Businesses will be able to open. “The goal is 100% accessibility,” Cabral-Curtis said.

Abutters will receive 72 hours notice of sidewalk construction and 48 hours of driveway closures, officials said.

Oswitt told residents that the resurfacing of Mass. Ave. will take place  at night in the fall of 2015. He said the chief obstacle to motorists would be the utility holes, which would project above the ground-down roadbed until crews lay down new pavement. Utility holes will be marked with traffic cones and barrels, he said.

Parking will be restricted on the 100-foot segment that is under construction at any particular time, during the 7 am–3:30 pm work period, but will otherwise continue to be available.

Vehicular Access
The contractor does not anticipate closing Mass. Ave., though a lane may be restricted around the construction with further restrictions possible during night construction.

Bus service and merchant deliveries will continue, according to Cabral-Curtis.

Private utilities, such as Verizon and NStar, may also be active during the utility phase, entailing additional construction and parking and traffic restrictions.

At the meeting, Selectman Joe Curro called the project a “long hard road,” but Jan Whitted, speaking for the Capitol Square Business Association, called it “an opportunity for joy.” Whitted, who owns ArtBeat at 212A Mass. Ave. in the heart of the project zone, invited community members to join the “great big construction adventure.”

Other construction-team members at the meeting were Scott Kelloway, the MassDOT official overseeing the project; John McGillicuddy of MassDOT, the resident engineer; and Donald Daily of MassDOT’s governmental-affairs office. Cabral-Curtis said the team has worked together before.

A few other tidbits from the meeting:

  • lynch2The “Lynch” markings on cross streets about 100 feet down indicate the Dig Safe zone. Actual construction work will not extend more than about 25 feet from Mass. Ave.
  • Basic maintenance will continue on Mass. Ave. during construction. (Note: As we have seen.)
  • Although Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine opened the meeting and fielded many of the questions from residents, the construction team is all MassDOT and contractor. This is a state project now.
  • Although the project will not address traffic issues on Lake Street, Howard Muise, the co-chair of the town’s Transportation Advisory Committee, said that his committee has been studying Lake Street traffic, including a possible traffic signal where the Minuteman path crosses the road.

Further resources include the Town’s web-page for the project, a sign-up page for construction-news emails (scroll down), and the slide show presented at Monday’s meeting at the Thompson School.


3 comments so far

  1. Jan Whitted on

    Hi Adam, thanks for the great recap. To be clear, the opportunity for joy that I referred to is in watching the construction take place. I know I am not alone in appreciating the art and science that go into building our physical world. Capitol Square’s Great Big Construction Adventure is a way of inviting the community to visit us frequently to watch, learn about, and celebrate the tools, the processes, and the people who make it all happen. Details at

  2. I am wondering if the installation of new signals is going to be done at the same time as the utility work or later in the process.

    • Adam Auster on

      The new masts (poles) at least will be installed as part of the utility phase.

      I don’t see why at least some of the replacement equipment (at Lake St. for instance) wouldn’t be completed and operative right away, but I honestly don’t know.

      I suspect the new signals at Bates won’t be activated until the road is striped, perhaps not until 2016. But again, I don’t know.

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