Construction at Medford and School streets.
Though commuters raised questions when a major construction project began on Medford Street earlier this month, the work has gone smoothly thanks in large part to an outreach campaign, according to city officials.
The Algonquin Gas Co. is installing part of a natural gas pipeline along Medford Street, with construction slated to last until the end of August. The 2.3 mile-long pipeline – which is 14 inches in diameter – will run through Medford and Somerville.
This month, Medford Street is closed during the day between Highland Avenue and Pearl Street. Medford Street access is restricted to one lane westbound between Pearl Street and School Street. Access to other parts of Pearl, Highland, and Skilton Avenue is also limited.
City spokesman Thomas Champion said automated calls went out to over 2,200 households in the impacted area on Aug. 1, so residents had few questions when the roadblocks went up. But drivers commuting into the city had some initial queries, which they directed to the city’s 311 line.
“Part of the thrill of Somerville is that we have a lot of commuters in this city,” he said. “So even when we [made calls], a lot of people driving through the city did [contact] our 311 folks.”
The 311 team received about 35 calls during the first week of construction, according to Steve Craig, director of the call center. But questions have leveled off to one or two per week, he said.
The city will repave all impacted areas in the fall. Crews will work on smaller sections of the streets during that time, Champion said, noting that Algonquin will reimburse the city for repaving costs. Algonquin also will pay the full freight for police details, pipe installation, and all other costs associated with the project.
While many commuters have had to reroute their morning drives into the city, pedestrians near the roadblock at Medford and School streets were unfazed by the construction on Monday. Neighborhood resident John Deb put it bluntly while walking towards the roadblock.
“Doesn’t bother me,” he said.
Ashley Fleming, who lives off of Medford Street on Dartmouth Street, said the work hasn’t altered her routine, since she walks away from the construction to get to her job at True Grounds, a coffee shop in Ball Square.
“I go that way,” she said, pointing westbound down Medford Street.