Rep. Rushing, Rep. Livingstone and I did a site visit to the Bowker overpass project last week and met with the contractor and MassDOT engineers supervising the project.
Here are highlights from our notes on the meeting.
- The final demo phase will begin in June and run for six weeks. That is the eastern most lane. They have done the other three lanes already. Those six weeks will be include some miserable noise – they are authorized to work with the pounding machine 6 days per week (no Sundays).
- The demo work will begin after 7AM and end before 6PM – generally, the set up time and shut down time (which must occur within the authorized work hours) are significant, so actual demo pounding will actually start later than 7 and end earlier than 6.
- After those six weeks, things should be relatively quiet through the end of the project – the remaining work will be drainage, topcoat, paving, painting, drainage etc. The heavy pounding will be over.
- The contractor seemed virtually certain that his entire job would be done and he would be gone by December. He saw no remaining project risk factors.
- The contractor will cleanup all his equipment and the areas that he has occupied before leaving – grass where the sun shines; stone dust under the overpass. He will also do some sidewalk repair on a segment of the brick sidewalks along Charlesgate West between Comm and Beacon.
- We asked about him cleaning some of the areas that appear unused sooner, but he said he needed those spaces while working on the last phase – there will be cranes to lift up materials, etc., that will need ground space for staging. In earlier phases, some of the materials could be stored on the structure, but more of it will be coming up from below in the final phase.
- The contractor addressed perceptions that they were not working constantly on the project. He stated that his people are working every day, they just are much quieter and harder to see on some days than others. The scaffolding that appears unused on the ramp from Storrow East bound to Charles gate west is awaiting the return of the painters for a final push later this year.
- >As of a June 16 update, MassDOT has committed to repair/replace the long broken lights under the Bowker as part of the current project. This addition will not delay the completion date.
We also pushed to get a clearer understanding of any future work in the area.
- As of a June 9 update, we learned from MassDOT that there is a project on the books to rehabilitate the segment of the Bowker that goes over the tracks, the Pike and Ipswich street. That segment is beyond the limit of work of the current project. That project has not yet reached the 25% design phase and is apparently not on the FY16-19 Transportation Improvement Plan. In other words, it is not imminent. The fact that it is not in the plans for the next three years does not mean it could not be moved forward. One item to note is that the intent is to use fast construction techniques developed for the Accelerated Bridge Program — these techniques have resulted in bridge construction efforts that lasted only a few weeks in some instances. You can keep abreast of project status at this link. MassDOT typically conducts a project hearing when it reaches the 25% design phase and we will circulate that notice as soon as we receive it. That hearing may occur within the next few months as 25% design completion is expected in August.
There are two issues which the project team is not in control of:
- The Boston Strong painting which many neighbors have found objectionable. Neighbors should petition the Mayor and Governor directly on this issue.
- The overall park condition – we have had a number of promising conversations with DCR Commissioner Roy. He visited the site with us two weeks ago and seems to really get it: What is now a mess could be beautiful. I am hopeful that we will be able to get well beyond the basic site cleanup that MassDOT has promised to make the area around the Bowker truly attractive. In that enterprise, the active involvement of a friends group could be very helpful. As MassDOT moves out, we will be in continuing conversation with DCR to the end of getting a definite improvement plan in place. We expect to announce a neighborhood meeting on the park’s future within the next month or two.