Photos courtesy of Lisa Simonetti
For Quincy resident Lisa Simonetti, trying to walk down her street for the last three weeks has been impossible.
Her street, Governors Road, has been undergoing construction since September, with parts stretching from Upton Street to Edgehill, which span the Milton-Quincy border, torn up and in disarray in the midst of construction.
The plans initially called for the street to be closed for traffic throughout the construction, but on Oct. 15, the Monday after the throughway was closed, Quincy officials heard an uproar from commuters.
The street was subsequently opened, but the sidewalks remained torn apart.
That response doesn't work for Simonetti.
“You have children who live on it who ride their bikes, elderly grandparents that live with son and daughter in law [who use it]. I use it all the time,” Simonetti said. “It’s not heavily trafficked, but it’s a huge impact considering at rush hour times there is a lot of traffic. That’s the concern. They have taken away any pedestrian access. You are forced into the road.”
In response, Simonetti started making phone calls, asking the mayor’s office, her Ward Councilor Brian Palmucci, DPW Director Dan Raymondi, even state Senator John F. Keenan, a Democrat from Quincy.
In an email, Ruth Dollarhide from Keenan’s office described the work as a cost-saving measure.
“In an effort to save money, the city has their workers dig up the sidewalks, rather than having the contractor do it. However, the contractor was delayed due to another project they were trying to complete,” Dollarhide said. “Our office has been told that Governors Road should be completed in the next 2 to 3 weeks. We’re so sorry for the inconvenience, but in these economic times, Quincy DPW is looking for any way possible to cut costs.”
Simonetti said she understands that construction can cause disarray. But what truly upset her was that the street was opened without any type of Plan B.
“What are we going to do for Halloween if this isn’t rectified?” she said. “I don’t think they have made any attempt to think through any safety issues or concerns for a lot of groups involved. It has stayed basically open since the mandate came to open it by the mayor.”
Furthermore, the city is breaking the law, said Terrel Harris, a spokesperson for the Architectural Access Board (AAB) with the Department of Public Safety.
“It's state law. Temporary routes have to provide access around construction sites,” he said.
As a result, the city has been cited by the AAB and has 14 days to respond in a letter how it will rectify the situation. If the city doesn’t respond, the board will allow another 10 days to act before initiating a complaint hearing.
But according to DPW Commissioner Raymondi, the road should be completed within the next week or so, depending on the weather.
“Within the next couple of weeks, the project is schedule to be completed. The curving should be installed by the end of this week, we’re hoping. One side would be graded, but it depends on the weather. If we have three to four days bad rain and a hurricane, it would slow us down, but we’re trying to move as quickly as we can,” Raymondi said.
The entire project may still take a few weeks to complete, Raymondi said, but “people should start to see some relief relatively soon."
The public is also protected by a traffic cop in the area, Raymondi said, who has the authority to shut down the road at any time if things become hazardous.
At the end of the day, it’s about doing a necessary project.
“The road needed to be done, and sidewalks were dangerous. If you’re talking about access, you couldn’t walk down either sidewalk before and the roadway needed to be repaired,” Raymondi said. “The good news is the city is addressing the problem.”
Mayoral spokesman Christopher Walker agreed that the bigger picture was the road is being repaired for the long-term, and closing the street just wasn’t an option, the city found.
“This isn’t something that could be done without strong consensus from within the neighborhood, and clearly that does not exist as it stands today,” Walker said.
As for the safety concerns, Walker said that with any construction project, there is bound to be inconvenience, but that no one is unsafe.
“There is safety measures in terms of police details and care by construction personnel … but this is a construction project and there will be some disruption for a temporary period of time,” he said.
As for Halloween, if the sidewalks aren't fully paved by then, they will at least be graded and usable for pedestrians, Walker said.
In the meantime, residents will meet tonight at the Quincy Elks Lodge on Quarry Street to discuss traffic plans for the area.