By Mac Cerullo Staff Writer
Newburyport Daily News
---- — AMESBURY — With the Hines Bridge, the Route 110 widening project and the numerous downtown improvement projects over the past few years, Amesbury residents are well acquainted with construction-related detours and inconveniences.
But with the Hines Bridge open and the Route 110 project nearly complete, it won’t be long before Amesbury’s roads will be functioning normally again for the first time in years.
Paving work began on Route 110 earlier this week, marking the start of the final phase of the $5.9 million state project that began back in 2010. Once the road is paved, the road will be relined and at that point will function as a two-lane road in both directions from I-495 to Merrill Street in Salisbury.
Originally the Route 110 project was supposed to be completed by March, but numerous delays pushed the project back to the summer and then again to early November. The delays were a result of issues raised by the Department of Environmental Protection, which had to be worked out before construction could continue, and then again by difficulty getting the utility lines moved in a timely manner.
Months went by without any visible progress on the road, but residents started seeing big changes about a month ago when the road was ground up and new center medians were installed.
Now as the Route 110 project reaches the end of the road, the Elm Street construction project in the Lower Millyard is nearing completion as well.
Access to Elm Street from downtown has been restricted for much of the summer, as construction crews have worked extensively on the road and the abutting sidewalks.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer said work on the road is scheduled to end for the season soon, and once it does the project should be 90 percent completed, with the last portion of work scheduled to be finished early next spring. The road will be reopened in both directions once paving is done this fall, he said.
“The one thing that’s going to be left over until next spring is that one section where the bridge is from the Back River, specifically the sidewalk,” Kezer said.
Kezer explained that the structural part of the sidewalk on the bridge is compromised and there is a plate underneath the asphalt covering what would otherwise be a big hole.
“The fix is a pre-engineered footbridge that’s going to be put in place as the sidewalk,” Kezer said. “So it’s an independent bridge from the road portion.”
In addition to the progress on Elm Street, Kezer also said he’s received positive responses from residents about the Fern Avenue bridge, which was reopened a couple of weeks ago after being closed for construction. Noticeable progress has also been made on the new CVS building at the corner of Route 110 and Main Street, which the developers say will be finished by January.