By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — Construction has resumed on the Elm Street reconstruction project, as an unmarked gas main that delayed the project for several weeks is now in the process of being moved.
National Grid crews began working to move the gas main on Monday, and the mayor’s office said their hope is the line will be out soon, allowing for the completion of the Elm Street project by the end of August.
Chief of Staff Eric Gregoire said he doesn’t know exactly when the line will be moved, but he said great progress has already been made and residents should expect to see work on the new sidewalk in the near future.
“Now that they’ve stepped in and actually started doing work, there’s not much more besides the insertion of the new sidewalk span and finishing the sidewalk on the opposite side by the gas station,” Gregoire said.
The new sidewalk is one of the last remaining components of the Elm Street project, which has been ongoing over the past couple of years with the aim of revitalizing the road connecting downtown to Route 110. The sidewalk will be located on the bridge that carries Elm Street over Back River, right by the entrance to the Costello Transportation Center.
The project is being funded by a state MassWorks grant, and Gregoire said the biggest challenge that came up after the unmarked gas main halted construction was keeping the project on schedule according to the state’s timeline.
“Not only were we confronted with trying to expedite this, but we’re also confronted by state timelines for this project,” Gregoire said. “So we were also working that angle to make sure National Grid was aware of this and knew what the guidelines were trying to get the project done as quickly as possible.”
Getting the project done quickly also meant clearing up a bottleneck near the entrance to the downtown area. When the construction crews initially went to install the new sidewalk, they set up barriers around the area, but when the gas main was discovered, the barriers remained even though no work was being done.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer said his office received numerous calls from residents wondering why the barriers were still up even though nothing was happening, but there wasn’t much anybody could do until National Grid did their part.
Once the line is moved, the contractors will build a separate bridge right next to the road to serve as the new sidewalk. The separate bridge is necessary because the part of the bridge the existing sidewalk was sitting on was compromised to the point where the asphalt was just sitting on a metal plate, which covered what would otherwise have been a big hole.
After the new sidewalk is in, the last step will be installing another new sidewalk across the street by the gas station.