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City says residents OK with Medford St. construction

Posted by Travis Andersen  August 18, 2009 11:00 AM

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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.

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3 comments so far...
  1. Oveall, the disruption to traffic flow on Medford Street and Pearl has been realtively manageable. But if I were Algonquin, I would take a good long look at any invoice provided before I pay it.

    Posted by Joe Lynch August 18, 09 03:52 PM
  1. The workers and the police have been great. I live in the corner of medford and walnut. When I need out of my driveway everyone is there to make sure I get out ok as well as in. All the workers have been more than understanding. Somerville Police have been great as to allowing my family to get in and out. The noise............. I guess we have to live with it till they finish. it is bearable.

    Posted by h kalos August 19, 09 11:36 PM
  1. The cops who've been stationed there are really nice - I live near the corner of walnut and medford and i'm always able to get across the street with no probs!!!

    Posted by Mooops August 22, 09 04:50 PM