Mass. Ave. Construction

Summary   Controversy   Construction

After the labyrinthine politics of the design phase, reporting on construction was refreshingly straightforward.

A backhoe delves into Mass Ave. at Wyman St., July 29, 2014.

The contractor selected, J.H. Lynch, broke ground at Wyman St. on July 29, 2014 (above).

Despite a few lingering details, the road was essentially done 15 months later.

What was it like?

Magnificent Disruption

Road reconstruction is inherently disruptive, but businesses stayed open and residents continued to patronize them.

Some project abutters lost access temporarily to their own driveways.

A few had interruptions of utilities that were certainly inconvenient if short.

Vincents Barber Shop is open even as a backhoe crew works directly in front of its door.

Open for business

As far as I know, the contractor made good on its promise to give advanced notice of these interruptions, and prioritized the related work so that the inconvenience was minimized.

This was in contrast to a promise to minimize the impact of construction by moving block by block. Instead, sidewalks could sit broken and unworked for weeks at a time.

Also high on the disruption scale were 7 nights of night work, though not every part of the road was affected every night.

Fire and smoke on Mass. Ave. on Sept. 14, 2015.


There was a ribbon-cutting for the new road on a very nice Saturday in November of 2015.

Ribbon cutting

State and local officials cut a ceremonial ribbon next to Mass. Ave, at Grafton St. Left to right: Kimberly Sloane and Peter Sutton of MassDOT, East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition Co-Coordinator Phil Goff, MassDOT Highway District 4 Director Paul Stedman, State Representative David Rodgers, Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, Arlington Selectmen Chair Kevin Greeley, State Senator Ken Donnelly, and Commmunity Liaison Nathanial Cabral-Curtis of Howard-Stein-Hudson Associates. Selectmen Dan Dunn and Joe Curro look on from the back.

One of the speakers, Phil Goff, spoke the names of the 4 who had died after being struck by cars on Mass. Ave. since 1996.

“The memories of these people are now embedded in the concrete and asphalt of the new Mass. Ave.,” he said.

More Highlights

That makes a fine book-end to the project, but here are a few more visual highlights from the construction phase, if you like.

Trees wrapped in wood,

one of many steps to prepare for construction work.

Tree trunks swathed in 2 x 4 boards to protect the trees during construction

The trunks of these trees are swathed in boards. View is west from near corner of Orvis Rd.

Fixing Allen St.

Marks on the ground, June 26

Marks on the ground, June 26, 2014

As viewed December 14

As viewed December

Allen St. was one example of where the redesign fixed some longstanding problems. See also Bates Rd. and Adams St., as well as many pedestrian crossings.

Sidewalk reconstruction begins

The excavator breaks the sidewalk by Dunkin Donuts the morning of September 23.

Cutting a road

Saw cut machine in action

Saw cut machine slicing Mass. Ave. on March 31, 2015.

Construction reaches the business district

Excavating by Lake St. in sun and shade, April 28, 2015.

Lots of sidewalk-superintendent photos in that report.

At least the businesses kept their wits about them:

You can say that again.

New traffic signals

Worker in a bucket attaching new traffic signal

The new traffic signal at Thorndike St. going in on August 13, 2015.

Faking the brickwork

Fake brick street median

Northwest from the Marathon St. crosswalk

Finally, a personal note

as construction wound down.

There are many more photos and reports on this blog on my “construction” pages. I have even managed to trick WordPress into showing them in chronological order! Note however that with this trick the navigational controls are reversed: older is newer and vice-versa.

If you want to discuss the construction phase, please do so in comments to this related blog post.

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