By John Lynds
The highly anticipated Central Square rehabilitation project that has been almost a decade in the making and finally commenced in the summer of 2015 and should have taken a year to complete, but the latest update from the city’s contractor revealed the project will not be done until June 2017.
“The last update we received was a July 2017 completion,” said City Councilor Sal LaMattina at a neighborhood response team meeting last week. “The contractors are trying to finish sidewalks before the winter. In the spring they will begin the islands and detail work like walkways, tree planting, etc.”
LaMattina said the major cause of delays has been re-routing the water mains that will recycle water so rain and runoff are not dumped into the Boston Harbor. This extra environmental feature was something the community had asked for during the design phase of the project.
LaMattina said a community meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 13 at the East Boston Social Centers to discuss the updated time frame of the project.
“I want to thank everyone for their cooperation so far,” said LaMattina. “I ask you to please continue to be patient. Once this project is done it will be great for the square and entire shopping district.”
The City of Boston began construction on Central Square back in June 2015 after years of waiting for bids to transform the Square into a new vibrant center of the neighborhood.
The McCourt Construction Company won the bid and, along with the City of Boston, began construction on the $8 million project over a year ago.
The City said the redesigned square will reclaim much of the pavement for pedestrian use by narrowing the streets,expanding the park and widening the sidewalks to create spaces for outdoor seating, cafes, and green space elements. Traffic will also be better organized and bike lanes will be added where possible to improve traffic flow and create a safer environment for cyclists.
In April 2013, Boston Transportation Department (BTD) officials said the project would break ground in the fall of 2013 after telling the community that bids had already been sent out. However, later that year the BTD said the project would most likely not begin until fall 2014.
With no bids accepted in 2014 and another round of bids sent out at the end of December 2014 it looked as though residents would have to wait even longer for the project to start.
LaMattina said the problem for the delay in the projects original start date was due to all the bids for the project coming in over the budget. LaMattina said the city reworked the bids and tweaked the design to hit the $8 million.
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 would 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 was finalized after a year-long community process back in 2010.