AMESBURY — The city is working closely with the state to prepare local residents for the two-year Elm Street reconstruction project expected to begin this spring.
The $10 million state and federal project will run 1.46 miles from the Sunoco gas station at the corner of Route 110 and Elm Street to Clark Street in downtown Amesbury.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation workers have begun surveying the area and the city’s communications director, Caitlin Thayer, said Mayor Kassandra Gove’s administration plans to keep residents and business owners informed.
“This is a big project that will have a lot of impacts and it will take a couple of years to complete,” Thayer said. “But, when it is done, we will have a beautiful, new street with full, ADA-compliant sidewalks with ramps. We will have a 5-foot bike lane. It will be a beautiful addition to our community.”
Thayer will be joined by Public Works Director Rob Desmarais and MassDOT resident engineer Ray Orsini on March 5 for a public forum on the project followed by a question-and-answer session. The forum begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
“The goal of this public forum is to put this information out there and make it as easily accessible as possible,” Thayer said. “Then, have that back-and-forth communication with anyone who has questions. We will be talking about all of the impact from this for the residents who live on Elm Street and the businesses who are on Elm Street. There will be some detours so that will also have impacts on the neighboring residents.”
The reconstruction project is expected to provide many challenges for drivers. The plans call for temporarily converting Elm Street from a two-way to a one-way street.
“We will keep one lane of traffic open during construction,” Desmarais said. “Detours will be provided and we have divided this into three sections. The first section will be Clark Street up to Congress Street, then Congress Street up to Monroe Street, then Monroe up to Route 110.”
Thayer said people attending the public forum should expect to see plenty of information about the reconstruction.
“There are going to be three different phases to this project and we will be talking about what those phases will look like,” she said. “We will also be talking about the dates that they are currently assuming and the impact they might have.”
Thayer said she also expects to talk about the city’s communications plan being developed for the project.
“We will be taking a multifaceted approach to make sure that people are really aware of what is going on,” Thayer said. “We will have a phone number people can call which will have a recorded message that will update as often as needed with what is going on, the detours, the impact. We will also be using social media and sending out press releases when we hit certain milestones and big updates.”
The city also has an Elm Street reconstruction project link on its homepage at www.amesburyma.gov/public-works/pages/elm-street-reconstruction. It is also expected to be updated frequently once the project begins, according to Thayer.
“We will be working really closely with the businesses on Elm Street to help remediate some of the business impacts that they might see with this project,” Thayer said. “We will be talking with them about other ways of marketing and how we can promote them as much as possible, that sort of thing.”
Thayer said Gove’s experience as the former executive director of the Chamber of Commerce will be helpful in moving the Elm Street project forward.
“We are working really closely with them to make sure that we can utilize their networks to get information out as well,” Thayer said. “We really want to make sure that they get through this project and get through it successfully.”
Desmarais said his department has been involved in the project’s design phase and will also be involved in its implementation
“It will be noisy and dusty, but we are excited about it,” Desmarais said. “It’s a big job and there are a lot of people on this road, so it will be a change. But when it is done, it will be a beautiful road similar to Route 150 coming into town.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.