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Quincy officials shift focus on Town Brook project

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 14, 2013 03:55 PM

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With the in-brook portion of Quincy’s Town Brook finally finished up this month, engineers have turned their attention to other parts of the brook project.

Quincy officials were in a mad dash to get the construction of the in-brook portion of the brook done before March 15, when smelt spawn in the waters. However construction on the exterior of the brook has been able to continue uninterrupted.

The construction on the park is still in the beginning stages, with backfilling, grading, and underground utility work ongoing. The next steps will be to finish up the design and begin the permitting process to turn the mounds of dirt and mud surrounding the brook into a picnicking area.

“The design of the improvements themselves have been advanced so that Tuesday night there is a public meeting to present it to interested parties, so they can have an idea of what is in store for the parks,” said Assistant City Solicitor Paul Hines.

Hines wasn’t sure of a timeline for the construction of the park, but noted that even if seeding and plants took place this summer, the area probably wouldn’t be ready for residents until the following year.

In addition to the parks, other parts of the project are ongoing, including clean-up and reconnecting utilities and storm drains that were disconnected during the construction.

The city is also at the beginning stages of conducting stormwater improvements near Crown Colony Place to help restore some of the water back to the brook.

“City agreed to do improvements in that vicinity to recapture some lost water and divert back into base of town brook. Those modifications have been designed and [are] being presented to DEP for approval for the town brook’s final order of conditions,” Hines said.

The nearly quarter of a million dollars in fixes includes some simple changes and some larger ones that will include going under Center Street.

Funding sources vary, including a $20,000 check from Street Works, a $70,000 commitment from Mass Marine Fisheries, a $27,000 commitment from the city from the BJ’s mitigation fund, and some extra funds from the $10.1 million in grants given to the brook.

Overall, the Brook relocation and renovation project has been contained within the initial $15 million estimates, and most likely will cost between $10.1-$10.3 million.

Though there is still much to do, the progress on the brook is an exciting development for town officials, who, after several months of intensive work, got the brook relocation done in time for the smelt to start spawning in it.

“It was our goal, our drive, our mission to be done by then so that the spawning substrate would be in place, the redesign in the bottom of the channel to accelerate the flow of water…would all be in place for this spawning season,” Hines said. “And it’s cheaper to get the job done and get out than suspend for three months.”

Quincy officials had initially set a deadline of March 1 to be done with the in-brook process, but were soon thwarted with weather events.

Though state departments don’t typically allow construction in the bed of any fish run from March 1 through May 31, Quincy received permission to keep working until March 8.

“Now the 4th of March when the forecast was really going south for that storm, the contractor elected to do a 36-hour work cycle. They worked through the night, rotated workers…brought in a light tower, worked through the night and through that next day,” Hines said.

The marathon construction session, though aggravating to neighbors, helped complete everything by March 7, despite a Nor’easter that dumped over a foot of snow on the city.

Now that the water is flowing through the re-routed brook, Hines said regulators are pleased.

“I can say without hesitation that Brad Chase [with the Department of Marine Fisheries] is very pleased with what he sees of the performance of the brook,” Hines said. “The slowing of water where he want, the speeding where he wanted…he’s very excited in the result and feels it will be very positive to the smelt spawning success. It’s clearly an improvement over the preexisting condition.”

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