Work on the Trapelo/Belmont Corridor Project goes under the lights next week as the repaving of Trapelo Road from Mill Street to the Belmont Car Wash and the “triangle” encompassing Lexington and Church streets in Waverley Square begins Monday evening, July 28 at 7 p.m.
While the Massachusetts Department of Transportation – the $17 million roadway construction is a state project – and the project contractor were set begin work this week, the Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday, July 21, pushed back the starting date five days to allow residents along the route time to prepare for three days of 12 hours of construction outside their front doors.
According to Tony Barrile, vice president of operations for project contractor Newport Construction of Nashua, NH, the combination of high temperatures, heavy commuter traffic and the narrowness of the roadway would lead to chaotic conditions performing the job during the work day.
Answering questions concerning the MDOT’s request to proceed with night work, Barrile said the new asphalt must cool after being laid forcing traffic on a single lane at certain choke points near the Shaw’s Supermarket on Trapelo Road, impacting rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon, resulting in lengthy backups and delays.
Switching to a night schedule, “we wouldn’t have to deal with the sheer volume of traffic” that transverse Waverley Square with the added benefit that most of the square’s businesses closed for the day, he said.
Saying that he doesn’t like to work after normal hours, “[i]t’s just so congested there that it makes sense to do it at night,” said Barrile.
While the selectmen were supportive of the time change for the repaving, they were not happy with the DOT’s initial proposal to begin the work on Wednesday, July 23, just two days after their meeting.
“There are quite a few residences in that area that will be only given a day notice before construction starts and I have a concern with that,” said Selectman Mark Paolillo.
While conceding construction noise will impact residencies, Glenn Clancy, Belmont’s director of the Office of Community Development, said “the tradeoff goes back to 30,000 vehicles trying to get through there during a work day coupled with the fact that businesses trying to operate during the day; the night work seems to be the best alternative to get the job done quickly.”
But Paolillo said the idea of beginning a major construction work through the night and the early morning, “right outside your house” will not give residents the opportunity to make other arrangements.
Selectmen Chair Andy Rojas offered up a Monday start “that gives us time to adequately to notify residents of the nature of the work.” Along with a series of mitigation suggestions – such as positioning construction lighting so it is directed onto the street and a contact number for residents to call the contractor during construction – the selectmen voted to approve the night time work request.
The five day delay will not have much of an impact on the project’s schedule, said Barrile.
“We’ll continue to work on other items such as sidewalks and paving,” he said. “We just want to have that piece of roadway nice and smooth for a change.”