CHATHAM – The replacement of sidewalks in the west end of the downtown business district begins Monday, Oct. 26, and the concurrent repaving of Cross Street will limit pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area through mid-December.
Sidewalks will be replaced from the rotary to Library Lane on the north side and Cross Street on the south side. The work began at Library Lane; crews will work west to the rotary and then east back to Cross Street. The project was scheduled for 10 weeks, and was supposed to begin right after Columbus Day, but officials asked for a two-week delay. Town Manager Jill Goldsmith said contractor Lawrence Lynch should meet the deadline of completing work by mid-December, although weather could be a delaying factor.
Goldsmith said officials are taking the impact of the project on businesses in the work area seriously. Pedestrian access to businesses will be maintained at all times, she said, although on-street parking within the project area will be limited. Officials are working closely with the chamber of commerce and will be using a web page to notify businesses where work will be done on a given day.
Selectman Cory Metters, who owns a shop within the project area, said he was concerned about communications. Letters to property owners went out last week, and tenants were not notified until last weekend. That caused a bit of a stir among business owners, he said.
“I just hope we can make this as efficient as possible,” he said.
Lawrence Lynch works “pretty quickly,” Goldsmith said. Delaying the project until June, she said, would likely have a greater impact on businesses. With the Orpheum Theater, a major driver of pedestrian traffic on the west end of Main Street, closed, it was felt the project would have less impact now, she said.
The goal of the project is to increase pedestrian safety and add handicap accessible ramps to the sidewalks, many of which are cracked and rutted. DPW Director Tom Temple said the project involves adding 16 ramps and 1,720 feet of sidewalks and curbing. He said he was confident the contractor could stay within the planned schedule.
“I think we should be able to hit our mark and get that whole area straightened out by the onset of winter,” he said. Work hours will be 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the contractor will stage equipment in the town parking lot off Stage Harbor Road.
Th work will begin with two days of pavement cutting, followed by removal of the sidewalk on the north (westbound) side of the street. Resetting of curbs and ramps will follow at about 300 feet per day. Gravel ramps and sidewalks will be in place during the work to allow access.
Lawrence Lynch is also the contract on the Cross Street project, which involves complete replacement of the sidewalks and roadway, which has been a bumpy patchwork for months following water, sewer and gas main work. That project began this week and is expected to take about 10 weeks, said Temple. The road is in “pretty tough shape,” he said, but an initial layer of pavement is expected to be completed by the end of the week. During construction, vehicular and pedestrian traffic will be limited to neighborhood residents. The road is often used as a back way into downtown.
Eversource is also conducting upgrades to the infrastructure on Cross Street that will require an isolated power outage on Friday, Oct. 23 starting at 10 p.m. until Saturday, Oct. 24 at 6 a.m. The outage is being done at night to minimize the impact, according to a statement from the town. Effected roads include Cross Street, Gristmill Drive, Henshaw Drive, Kent Place, Main Street, Shattuck Lane and Shattuck Place. Police details will be in place to direct any vehicular or pedestrian traffic. Residents in the affected area should plan in advance for the loss of power, and can contact Eversource customer service at 1-800-592-2000 with any questions.