, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 25, 2014

Whittier Bridge work halted

MassDOT stops project over concerns of worker's behavior

AMESBURY — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) suspended work on the John Greenleaf Whittier/I-95 Bridge project late yesterday afternoon after a contractor was believed to have drawn offensive, taunting graffiti directed toward residents abutting the project in Amesbury.

“MassDOT expects the same standard of behavior and professionalism from its contractors that it expects from its own employees,” DOT spokesman Mike Verseckes said. “Given the proximity of the job to the residence, we are looking into this and we are taking this seriously.”

DOT Acting District Highway Director Paul D. Stedman sent a letter to construction company Walsh-McCourt, JV1 demanding the suspension of work on the $292 million project after a resident of the Whittier Point Condominiums, Scott Taylor, whose home lies within 20 feet of the construction, awoke to find graffiti, apparently addressed to him, written on a launch girder yesterday morning.

Photos show chalk graffiti reading, “Welcome to Fallujah baby!,” which Taylor believes is a direct response to a statement he made to The Daily News last week while detailing his difficult experiences living so close to the project, including excessive noise, constant vibrations and harsh lighting from fog lights.

“This is Amesbury, not Fallujah,” he said at the time.

MassDOT officials spent yesterday investigating the matter, after being notified by Taylor of the incident. The state officials decried the worker’s actions and expressed concern with “the lack of action taken by Walsh-McCourt JV1 with regards to the offensive and inappropriate graffiti,” in a letter sent to Walsh-McCourt officials late yesterday afternoon ordering them to immediately suspend work.

As of press time, work on the massive Whittier Bridge reconstruction project remained halted. MassDOT officials said yesterday the project will remain shut down until Walsh-McCourt JV1 submits a report and action plan to address the situation.

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