NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 26, 2014

Bridge work resumes

Whittier project was suspended following graffiti incident

By Jim Sullivan
Staff writer

---- — AMESBURY — The suspension placed on construction company Walsh-McCourt JV1 by the Mass Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Thursday was lifted late yesterday, allowing the work on the $292 million John Greenleaf Whittier/I-95 Bridge project to continue immediately.

“MassDOT has received a report from its contractor,” MassDOT spokesman Mike Verseckes wrote in a press release yesterday. “After reviewing the report, the agency has accepted it and has now allowed the contractor to resume work.”

The suspension took effect after a contractor was alleged to have drawn taunting graffiti directed toward the Taylor family who reside directly next to the project in Amesbury. MassDOT demanded a report and action plan to address the incident. Once the suspension was in place, all work on the project halted for more than 24 hours.

“The contractor held a meeting with all project personnel to underscore that harassment of any kind – either verbal or in writing – will not be tolerated,” Verseckes wrote. “A written policy will be issued to all existing employees and new employees upon their hiring that will be above and beyond all current corporate harassment policies. The policy will make clear that any communication of any kind will be channeled solely through senior project management.”

“The contractor will also consider the possibility of using cameras on the project site to discourage and/or document any further inappropriate behavior,” Verseckes continued. “Any consideration of installing cameras will be done with the cooperation of the adjacent residents, if deemed appropriate.

Verseckes did not elaborate further on what is may have cost Walsh-McCourt JV1 to shut down for the day, nor whether any employee or employees were disciplined, but he did say that the suspension was a demonstration of how seriously MassDOT takes the situation.

“If the state really cared about what happened, and really cared about my family and wanted to get to the bottom of who did it, they would not start up construction until the culprit’s coworkers either ratted him ou,t or he admitted it,” Scott Taylor said.

It was unclear as of press time whether the workers were paid for their day off yesterday or not. Taylor said that he was told by MassDOT yesterday that since they workers get paid by the hour, if they don’t work, they won’t get paid.

“I don’t know if they have a union fund that they are drawing from when something like this happens, so it is really not a sting for them,” Taylor said.