Quincy officials are still optimistic about the March deadline for the Town Brook relocation, expecting to be finished with the project before smelt-spawning season begins.
According to Assistant City Solicitor Paul Hines, the permits granted to the city by the Department of Environmental Protection mandate that, because smelt spawning season will occur from early March through May, city crews have to be largely finished with the brook by March 1.
“It is our expectation that that will happen,” Hines said. “That it will be in place and major construction will be out. The landscaping around can go along after that time. But the footprint of the flow, we have to be out for spawning season, and we fully anticipate meeting that deadline.”
Engineers have been working to re-route the city brook since mid-2012 as part of an overall plan to transform the downtown.
Currently, the brook runs through the center of the revitalization project, and lies in the way of new development.
Plans seek to move the brook to the outskirts of the city center alongside the Walter Hannon Parkway, redirecting it starting at Parkingway and School Street and having it follow along the concourse.
The brook will eventually meet up with the existing portion of the brook along Revere Road, which is also being rehabbed and widened.
Overall, that process has gone well, Hines said.
“Dry pipe went in as concourse was being built, they tunneled under Hancock Street without a hitch. Soil was compacted more firmly than they thought so it took a little longer, but they were still in their proposed timeline,” Hines said.
Elsewhere, the open channel construction alongside Walter Hannon Parkway, between Hancock Street and Mechanic Street, is also underway.
Ongoing construction crossing under Mechanic Street will take another 14-15 days before the main focus of construction goes to the existing portion of the brook on Revere Road.
City officials already received easements for the private property along that stretch, owned by Arline Goodman, at the end of December, and have begun construction in that area.
There the brook water is flowing through a pipe to allow crews to work on both walls and the brook floor, restoring it to state specifications.
While work is progressing as expected, it has been a cumbersome and exhausting process for Goodman thus far.
Work has disrupted many aspects of her life, she said, with massive pieces of equipment surrounding her house, and workers coming and going often.
“First thing this morning there was a large backhoe in the driveway. Apparently it’s for moving the giant pipe and doing some other work at place where the street drain enters the brook to block it off,” Goodman wrote in an email on Jan. 8. “There is one crew in the backyard and another in my front yard.”
Goodman’s attorney, Stuart Schrier, said that quality of life has been disrupted by the project.
“Ultimately, it’s probably in her best interest that the brook get repaired, but the process of doing it is a huge inconvenience,” Schrier said. “It would be different if Arline was a young woman going to work every day…but when you have nothing to do at this point in your life when you’ve earned retirement … you’re listening to banging, dirt flying -- it’s got to be very distressing.”
Despite the stress of it all, Schrier said the city has been very responsive to Goodman’s needs, creating parking for her on her front lawn – which will be repaired after construction - while also giving her and her tenants parking passes across the street.
Additional speed signs have also been placed along the street.
With good weather and a bit of luck, construction may be done as early as February, Schrier said.
“The city has told us they are working as fast as they can…the inconvenience can be tolerated, but if it drags out there will be a lot of whining,” Schrier said.