Central Square Renovation to Begin

After years of waiting the bid to transform Central Square into a new vibrant center of the neighborhood has finally been accepted.

City Councilor Sal LaMattina said at a meeting last Thursday that after several failed bid attempts by the city, construction on the long-awaited project will finally break ground in July.

“We will be having a series of community meetings to update businesses and residents on what they should expect during construction,” said LaMattina.  “I’m very excited about this project because it will transform Central Square and is one of the biggest transportation projects we have done in East Boston in a long time.”

The McCourt Construction Company won the bid and, along with the City of Boston, will host a community meeting on Wednesday, June 10 at Oliviera’s Restaurant, 297 Chelsea St. Representatives from Boston Public Works, Boston Transportation as well as McCourt will be on hand to answer questions related to the scope of work, parking restrictions and traffic mitigation.

In April 2013, Boston Transportation Department (BTD) officials said the project would break ground in the fall of 2013 after telling the community bids had already been sent out. However, BTD’s Vineet Gupta told the East Boston Times at the time, the project would most likely not begin until fall 2014.

“We finished the design two years ago,” said Gupta at the time. “Since that time we have been taking the concepts and working out minor details to accommodate the design the community had asked for.”

With no bids accepted over last summer and another round of bids being sent out at the end of December it looked as though residents would have to wait even longer for the project to start.

LaMattina said the problem was all the bids for the project came in over the $4 million budget. LaMattina said the city reworked the bids and tweaked the design to hit the $4 million mark.

In August 2008, former Boston mayor the late Thomas Menino announced the city would spend $4 million on a new design for Central Square.

The new design will include a reorganization of parking to improve access for businesses, new traffic signals at key intersections, shorter pedestrian crossings, and additional trees and landscaping.  The design will be finalized after a year-long community process.

The overhaul of Central Square was part of a wider Transportation Action Plan for Eastie. Several other initiatives were part of the plan like creating safer pedestrian crossings at several locations including the Umana School on Border Street and along Condor Street. There’s a plan to eliminate cut-through traffic on Bayswater Street, a redesign of the Saratoga Street and Chelsea Street intersection as well as coordination with private developments adjacent to Central Square.

In addition, the city is expanding the Resident Parking Program in East Boston in an effort to prevent commuter and airport parkers from monopolizing the limited on-street parking spaces in the neighborhood.

In fall 2008, the parallel parking on Sumner Street was replaced by angle parking to provide approximately 60 new spaces for residents.

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