Gore Street Residents Wary of Planned Construction in Cambridge

Construction workers watch over the 20 feet sewer main dig located on Water Street, in Cambridge, Mass., on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. Photo by Claudia Pascual

By 
BU News Service

After a challenging, five-year sewer separation project rattled West Cambridge, Gore Street residents expressed concern that an upcoming year-long construction project in East Cambridge may present some of the same issues.

More than 20 residents showed up to a meeting with city officials and NorthPoint developer Divco West on Sept. 28 at Francis Hall on Cambridge Street to discuss the water and sewer main construction, which will run on Gore Street between Monsignor O’Brien Highway and Warren Street.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” said Mary Ann D’Onofrio, resident and daughter of Geno D’Onofrio, a passionate advocate for recreational areas who pushed for the establishment of Gore Street’s Gold Star Mother’s Park in the 1980s. “This presentation gives people an opportunity to see what they [CSL Consulting, construction mitigation company] are thinking, go home, think about it and call them with the concerns.”

While the water work is scheduled to begin January 2018, officials at the meeting focused more on the sewer construction, which began on Water Street Oct. 2 and will last until summer 2018.

Residents said they worried the construction would be as loud and chaotic as West Cambridge’s $100 million sewer-separation project, which fell at least one year behind schedule.

“This is not West Cambridge” Louis DePasquale, city manager, reiterated to skeptical audience members.

In an interview after the meeting, DePasquale said the neighborhood’s concern was that there were “too many constructors working at the same time” instead of dividing the time efficiently.

Inevitable inconveniences

Despite the promises to avoid the same faults as West Cambridge’s construction, city officials were blunt about the inevitable inconveniences, such as noise, rodents and limited parking spots and street lanes.

“In full disclosure, the construction will be disruptive,” said Kathy Watkins, assistant commissioner of engineering.

Leflore said work would run Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but reminded those present that construction workers would use vibration sensitivity equipment, such as sensory monitors, when possible to maintain the sound levels below the allowed threshold.

1 year, $10 million

According to Divco West, the sewer work, estimated to cost $10 million, will take place on Water Street, Monsignor O’Brien Highway and Gore Street. The sewer main construction would take approximately one year on opposite sides of Gore Street, simultaneously working from Warren Street and Water Street until construction meets at the center of Gore Street. The aim is to finish the work in the summer of 2018.

“It is a one-block-at-a-time project,” said Edward LeFlore, co-founder of CSL Consulting, the sewer construction mitigation company. He explained each block would take three to five weeks to finish.

“My main goal is communication, making sure I know how to get to everybody and they know how to get to me,” said LeFlore. “If somebody doesn’t get a door flyer, I have to figure out a better way to do it.”

Concerns for the community

Sitting at a bench watching over her grandchildren playing at Gore Street’s Gold Star Mother’s Park recently, Mandit Kaur said she never received any notification of the construction at her house located between 7th Street and Gore Street.

Five years after leaving her home in India and moving into her daughter’s home on Gore Street, Kaur believes it is a “good thing” the city of Cambridge decided to build a new sewer main because she really enjoys the neighborhood and would like to see a “change that would benefit all.”

“What is going to happen when it is finished,” asked D’Onofrio at the meeting. “A lot of us don’t like what happened at Inman Square with the bike lanes and parking.”

She added that she understood the importance of the future city-funded $2.7 million sidewalk and bike lane construction, but explained that sidewalks should come first, since elderly people make up the vast majority of Gore Street residents.

“Emergency vehicles pull up two or three times during the day and night at the elderly public housing, Millers River Apartments,” she said. “That’s something to consider.”

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