Big Digging: Major Project to Begin Monday on Washington Ave; Smoother Sailing Ahead

There’s no discounting the conditions of Washington Avenue these days.

Right now, it’s darn near impassable, but thankfully, not for much longer.

The Washington Avenue Reconstruction Project – already underway right now – will become more disruptive beginning next week, but City officials say it will be for the right reasons.

Starting on Monday, portions of Washington Avenue will be closed to allow for the “full-depth” reconstruction of the roadway to begin. Once completed, in 10-weeks, today’s bumpy road surface will sport a smooth binder coat that will relieve motorists, and their shock-absorbers, from the rattling that has occurred with the preparation work last June.

“Frankly, it’s not a moment too soon,” said City Councillor Christopher Cataldo, who represents much of the area that has been under reconstruction.  “We all know we’ll be pleased with the results – a smooth driving surface, reconstructed sidewalks and more reliable water and sewer lines – but the wait to get to that point has been driving people crazy.”

DPW Director Joe Foti sympathizes with Cataldo and the many others who have been pleading for the project to level out Washington Avenue.

“The problem,” explained Foti, “is that Washington Avenue should have been reconstructed 20-years ago. Since then, the roadway base has deteriorated so badly that there’s almost nothing left to hold up what we’ve been putting down as a temporary patch.

“We’re now ready to rebuild that base. By the middle of July, Washington Avenue, from Cary Square to Revere Beach Parkway, will look as good as new.”

To get there, though, Foti says that street closures will be necessary.

The City’s contractor, Marchese Inc., will need to close portions of Washington Avenue for daytime construction. Foti advises that the closed sections of Washington Avenue will then reopen in the evenings and on the weekends.

“We’ll start from Cary Square to Spruce Street, which will take us about 2 weeks of daytime closures,” he said. “Once we complete that section, we’ll next move from Spruce to Carmel Street for the next three weeks.  Then, we’ll go from Carmel to the Rt. 1 Bridge over four weeks. Finally, we’ll do from the Rt. 1 Bridge to the Parkway in 1 week.”

During the closures, Marchese crews will dig up the existing roadway and base, re-grade, and install a new base.  On top of that, a binder coat, which is a 4.5-inch thick layer of asphalt, will be applied. That binder coat will be allowed to sit a season, and then a 1.5-inch finish coat will be applied next spring.

“The binder will be smooth because the base underneath it will be totally reconstructed,” said Foti. “For many, it will feel like they’ll be driving on a final coat, but we do add one more coat after any settling takes place.”

Following the binder coat being placed, sidewalks will be repaired, so, by the beginning of the fall, that portion of Washington Avenue will be almost finished. As that work on reconstructing the base happens, Washington Avenue, from Cary Square to Heard Street, will have water work completed.  Once that is completed, then the process of reconstructing the base, placing down the binder, and pouring new sidewalks will occur on that stretch of Washington Avenue. Reconstructing that base should begin in August and be completed by the first snowfall.

“This is a massive roadway project that we are undertaking in sections to increase the access the residents and businesses have during the reconstruction,” said Foti. “It is certainly inconvenient at times, but we have scheduled the work in such a way to reduce those inconveniences as much as possible. It will only be a little while longer before all the sacrifice becomes a memory.”

Foti encourages anyone wishing to follow the progress of the project to stay in touch with the City’s website, There, a weekly schedule will be posted on the main DPW page.  During the reconstruction, detours will be set up and busses rerouted.  Access will be maintained to all businesses.  Limited parking bans will occur, so parkers should observe temporary signage that is posted in parking areas.  The City’s website will have all of that information as well.

“The Washington Avenue Reconstruction Project is a $6m capital improvement that we are so pleased to be able to undertake,” said Foti. “The City Council, City Manager Jay Ash, and our State legislators deserve a great deal of credit for marshalling the resources in these tough times to allow us to not have to ignore this roadway for another 20 years. I guarantee that the final product will not disappoint.”

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