A state project to rebuild a stretch of Route 97 was temporarily placed on hold while the contractor revised plans to reduce traffic interruptions and optimize the work taking place, MassDOT officials said.
Mayor James Fiorentini said the delay in work was noticed by a number of residents who called him to ask what was going on, and that recently he visited the site to see for himself, then reported on his Facebook page that he was disappointed in the progress being made.
"For whatever reason, they didn't have someone out there and they should have," Fiorentini said after he spoke to MassDOT officials.
He said workers returned to the site on Monday of last week.
"I'm happy that they're making progress," he said. "Sometimes you just have to light a fire under people."
Fiorentini said he shares the frustration of residents who have reached out to him to say that particular stretch of Broadway, between the One Stop Market and Lake Street is in terrible condition.
"I think we can tolerate a couple more weeks and I'm just glad the work is being restarted," Fiorentini said. "I worked very hard for this project and I want it done right. It will be nice when it's done."
The $6.2 million project involves reconstructing Broadway (Route 97) between Silver Birch Lane and Research Drive, slightly less than a mile in total, and installing sidewalks on both sides of the stretch.
MassDOT spokesman Patrick Marvin said construction work was temporarily placed on hold partly due to the contractor’s request to modify the traffic management plans.
He said MassDOT has been working closely with the contractor, the city, and the design consultant over the past several weeks to finalize these modifications, which he said will help optimize operations and minimize the impact on the traveling public.
Marvin explained that the contractor requested carrying out the project in phases. He said the project's expected completion date of August 2020 has not been impacted by the change.
"Each phase will consist of crews reconstructing short segments of the entire width of the roadway," Marvin said. "This is a modification to existing plans, where one side of the roadway along the entire length of the project would be reconstructed, followed by the other side of the roadway."
Marvin said the contractor resumed work on the project early last week, and is continuing with the installation of drainage and the construction of new retaining walls.
Paving work, by section, is expected to begin by the end of the month, he said.
"As always, this schedule is dependent on weather and the progress of operations," Marvin said. "And as always, MassDOT will closely monitor progress and work operations throughout this project."
Part of the project involves reconstruction of the busy intersections of Route 97 at Lake Street and at Forest Street to provide better alignment, turn lanes and crosswalks.
According to MassDOT, the project will also widen the roadway to provide two, 11-foot lanes with 5-foot striped shoulders to accommodate bicycles.
Drainage improvements will be included for the entire project length and tree plantings will take place when the road work is done, the mayor said.
The cost of construction work is being shared between the federal government and state Department of Transportation, with Haverhill paying about $500,000 to design the project.