Over a roughly 22-year career building bridges and other heavy duty construction projects, Newburyporter Mark Chaisson has spent an estimated 14 years away from home. With projects taking place on Martha’s Vineyard or Miami or a dozen more far-off places in between, the option of coming home for dinner hasn’t been realistic for the pile driving foreman for Walsh Construction out of Chicago.
But for his latest project, all the 49-year-old Pine Hill Road resident has to do for a home-cooked meal is walk across the street. For the next few years, Chaisson will be helping demolish and reconstruct the John Greenleaf Whittier Memorial Bridge, a mere “45 seconds” from home.
“It’s a nice opportunity, rare and nice. It’s not often you get to work on a job this big and this close to home. This type of job for me, I’m very excited to work on a project this size, this scale — something my family will drive over for 50 years,” Chaisson said.
Chaisson’s easy commute has become the envy of the job site. Yesterday, project superintendent Paul Grimaldi didn’t mince words when asked what he thought of his co-worker’s situation.
“I’m real jealous. I’m 90 miles from home. You bet I am (envious),” said Grimaldi, who lives in near the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border.
Chaisson, the cousin of Newburyport police Sgt. Steven Chaisson, said that long commutes are part of the job for most people in his field. And over the years, he has grown accustomed to them. That makes working so close even more special, if not jarring at first. An added emotional bonus for Chaisson, a longtime member of Local 56 piledriver union, is that he didn’t even know he’d be working so close to his backyard. Instead it was Walsh officials who sought him out.