Park Drive Water Main Replacement Project Disrupts the Fenway

By Beth Treffeisen

Throughout the summer the Park Drive and the surrounding side streets in the Fenway neighborhood have been dealing with construction zones, water shut-offs and additional traffic as Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) have been replacing the water main.

The construction is happening on Park Drive and runs down to Brookline Avenue to Boylston Street. The work includes replacement of 3,7000 feet of water main, including 12 hydrants.

At the same time, National Grid will be doing construction along the same route but in the opposite direction in an effort to fix gas leaks that have been killing some trees in the area.

The work on Park Drive began this past July and is scheduled to be completed Summer 2018. There will be a winter moratorium from Thanksgiving to April.

This is phase II of a two-part project. The first half began in April on the Fenway, the street on the opposing side of Back Bay Fens.

Earlier this month, residents of the Fenway complained that there was lack of notice for construction work, water shut offs, street blockages and parking disruptions. BSWC held a meeting on Monday, August 7 to address those concerns to talk with residents on the ongoing project.

Since certain residents could not attend that meeting, State Representative Chynah Tyler held another community meeting on the evening of Wednesday, August 16 for continued explanation of the ongoing project.

“There was a ton of constituent calls asking what is happening and I didn’t know,” said Tyler on why she held this meeting.

Tyler explained that after visiting the Fenway neighborhood this past January, many residents had concerns that the sidewalks into and out of the parks were not accessible. After working with the Massachusetts Department of Parks and Recreation (DCR), Tyler secured the funding to make it a reality.

But, part way through she realized a different construction project was happening with BWSC. Because DCR didn’t want to run the risk of pouring concrete in a place that was going to be dug up they put a hold on the project.

Tyler will be sharing with BWSC, which sidewalks need the upgrading in order to avoid ripping the sidewalks up twice.

“Instead of putting back something you don’t want we can adjust them and put them back the way you want it,” said Irene McSweeney the director of construction from BWSC.

McSweeney said that each year they do $60 million of work to improve the overall water system. The work happening in the Fenway is to reduce future water main breaks, reduce rusty water, and remove corroded pipes.

Construction around replacing the pipes is expected to be done by this November. Depending on the weather, McSweeney hopes the repaving on the sidewalks and restoration to the green spaces will be finished as well, but if not, will be done the following spring.

Resident Fredericka Veikley shared some concerns over the destruction of the greenways and piles of concrete on her street. She said, “I’m just anticipating that they will be there forever.”

But, McSweeney said that although there has been a bit of destruction in the Fenway, they do have a portion of the budget to make sure they restore it back to the way it was, if not better.

Construction hours for the replacement project on Boylston Street towards Brookline Avenue are from 7 – 4 p.m. from now to November 2017. Construction is put on hold when there is a home Red Sox game.

In regards to notifying the community in time, McSweeney said that they tried a lot of methods including calling the Mayor’s neighborhood representatives, going on NextDoor an online community forum, and giving notice to each buildings owner.

Fenway resident Marie Fukuda said that sending a notice to a buildings owner doesn’t really work in getting the message out and asked what else they will be doing to increase communication.

McSweeney understood that it doesn’t always work but now they have the right people to coordinate with and will work on creating a better e-mail list. “We try hard but we’re not always successful,” said McSweeney.

There were also concerns with the construction interfering with move-in days with the nearby colleges.

“If there is a move-in day we won’t work,” said McSweeney. “Why make it more agitated?”

If you notice anything out of place or have a complaint you can call the emergency 24/7 number at 617-989-7000.

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