Less Traffic Means No Night Work Needed On Sewer Project

By: William F. Galvin

The Robert B. Our Company, which is installing the sewers in East Harwich, will be heading north of the intersection along Route 137 this week. Local businesses are concerned about detours impacting their operations and the Chamber of Commerce is stressing “East Harwich is open for business.” WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO 

EAST HARWICH — There will be no night sewer work on the north side of the main intersection along Route 137.

Interim Town Administrator Joseph Powers recommended not going to night work given reductions in traffic associated with the COVID 19 stay-at-home restrictions. Selectmen approved the recommendation last week.

Powers told selectmen he met with staff, consultants and contractor Robert B. Our Company and all agreed they didn’t see the need to shift to nighttime construction there. Given the reduction in traffic as people are sheltering in place, it was agreed the work could be done along that stretch while one lane remained open.

Not only has there been a significant drop in traffic, but the Lighthouse Charter School will be closed into early May, and the absence of bus traffic and parents dropping students off further eases conditions, Powers said.

The Our Company, the contractor for one of the two sewer projects underway in East Harwich, is happy with the decision, Powers said. It’s the company’s position that there is a significant reduction in production when working nighttime hours, he said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Larry Ballantine said he’d like to see the Our Company devote their resources to getting that stretch done during regular work hours while this opportunity exists. Powers said this was the sense of the staff as well.

Selectman Stephen Ford wanted to know how the work would impact the essential businesses allowed to remain open in the area. Powers said many businesses have modified hours, but he added work had been ongoing along the section of road in front of the CVS and police details have been able to keep a lane open.

“We do feel it is manageable in the daylight hours and have been working with the businesses,” Powers said.

Selectman Michael MacAskill said he has been talking to the workers and they would like to see later working hours. The contract calls for work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but they'd like that extended to 7 p.m., he said.

There are several businesses in the area considered “essential” under Governor Charlie Baker’s order allowing certain businesses to remain open. Harwich Paint and Supply has curbside pick-up for customers and have remained quite busy, said Paul Fox.

“We’ve had a pretty good response and we’re taking it one day at a time,” Fox said.

He also said he does not have a problem with extending the hours of construction because his business is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. He said he appreciated the work being done but the sooner it can be accomplished the better.

MacAskill's motion to extend work hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the understanding a travel lane will remain open, was approved. Powers said the Our Company must also understand workers do have to abide by social distancing while on the job. Contractors working under essential services provisions also have to develop project timelines and additional information required by the commonwealth, he added.

The second contractor working on the sewer project in East Harwich, CJV Construction, Inc., of Canton, wanted to shut town water off while working on a section of Church Street near Sou-west Drive. The company needed to shut municipal water down along that section to be able to install a sewer line in close proximity to a water main.

Given the COVID-19 situation, and the directives to shelter in place and frequently wash hands, selectmen agreed now was not the time to shut water off to a number of houses in that area. Powers said the request can be revisited at the board's April 7 meeting. That is the date Baker set for an updated assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic.