Rain delays don’t stop sewer projects! Last time Bertoni, York and Foley Roads done, Rt. 128 was coming in. See the original plans ca.1950 #PublicWorks #GloucesterMA DPW

With thanks to Mike Hale, Dir. Public Works; Matt Coutu, Civil Engineer with New England Civil Engineering thru DPW; and Police Sergeant Conners.

At this time in July, Gloucester Public Works is generally midway into a construction season. Not this year. The rain has caused a “knotted web of deficiencies,” impacting routine work such as patching and pothole repair, outside painting, line & crosswalk painting, and summer paving which is “weeks and weeks behind”. Mowing wet grass or while it’s raining isn’t a good idea. And when the sun comes out the grass takes off. So that’s a visible delay. Still, DPW is plugging away at smaller projects around town, at the waste water plant, and pumping station projects. Most Utility work is on schedule.

Even before all this rain, the 2021 schedule demanded flexibility. DPW projects are unseen in the best of times, and can go unrecognized. Gloucester DPW worked through the pandemic. People forget that they were essential services. Prioritizing projects has been key (think critical events as in hazards or special events downtown). Also pacing and flexibility:

“The past 18 months have been taxing on these guys. Mistaken belief still out there that everyone had quarantine off. They need vacation this year. Didn’t get it last year. I’m mindful of burnout. So at times we’ll be short. Could be a specialty, supervisory, labor or machine operator job. They’re all important. The edges may be where you start assembling puzzle pieces, but you’re still going to need the outside and center pieces to be complete.”

Mike Hale, Dir. Public Works, July 2021 addressing holes if any in DPW operation

Essential workers, dangerous jobs – lest we forget | TRENCH BOXES — akin to mine shaft collapse prevention — for utilities and road work

Bertoni neighborhood water & sewer project 2021

Gas, sewer, and water lines have all been removed, redirected and replaced. Clay tile pipe (sewer) is notorious for ground water intrusion, and cast iron (water) for tuberculation*– New PVC will increase run time and water quality.

  • I had to ask. *TUBERCULATION: “Accumulation of minerals inside pipe decreases volume and impacts water quality.”

DPW is pumped about the new pump!

The former configuration ran beneath Rt. 128. Now that it’s been re-directed and running to a newer location off Poplar/DPW campus, there will be a significant savings both for the life of the pump and electricity.

“The Gloucester Ave. sewer pump station, during wet weather and high ground water, would run in excess of 12 hours per day, some days even longer. Running time for the newer one has been cut down to 6 hours a day.”

Mike Hale

Looking Back – February 1947

The Gloucester 2.5 mile highway construction was delayed “indefinitely”, because the bids for the approach (to a new bridge across Annisquam River) came in too high. The lowest bid was $1,285,776 and the cost was fixed at $300-$500,000.

August 1950

“…Much to the joy of thousands of beleaguered year-round and Summer residents, it was announced that the gap in the new high level bridge over Annisquam River was closed at 9a.m. by Bethlehem Steel Corporation.

The great significance was that it meant that it will not be too long before auto traffic will be flowing over this this improved entrance and exit to Gloucester, eliminating the two mile long traffic jams that have brought despair to motorists caught in the frequent openings of the low level Richard Blynman Bridge over the same river.

A sense of joy and relief was also experienced by the two Bethlehem officials in charge of the superstructure contract–Construction Engineers John P. McGonigle and Charles L. “Lonnie” Stroble. For as the 52-foot long, 44 ton piece of steel known as the central arch rib, south side, was lowered into place, their worry was whether or not it would fit. It did. 100 percent… The entire bridge is 860 feet long…

The superstructure contract, let by the State Department of Public Works to Bethlehem Steel is for $1,232,479.90.”

Boston Globe, Aug. 1950

1958 – RT. 128 Construction

Boston Globe focus on Rt. 128 by K. S. Bartlett features Gloucester, Ma.

“Approximately $1 million a mile for 65 miles of the great three-quarter circle from Gloucester on the North Shore to the high speed interchange in Braintree where it will meet the Southeast Expressway coming south from Boston. Cost of the 65 miles, all competed or now under construction, is a bit less than $65 million. That covers land damages, engineering, planning and construction costs since Route 128’s start back in 1936.”

“Rt. 128 has earned name, “Avenue of Modern Industry”: Million Dollar a Mile Gold Road” by K.S. Bartlett, Boston Globe

photo descriptions:

“Contractors building the 1.7 miles of the Gloucester extension found huge rocks dropped by visiting glaciers tens of thousands of years ago. More than half a million tons of rock (many kinds and varieties of hardness and weight) plus earth and plain dirt have been taken out to make your driving easier. Her you’re looking at one of the tough spots during the last weeks of construction.”

“Want a bit of New England’s famed chowder? You’re at the right place. The Gloucester extension of Route 128 ends at Eastern Avenue in Gloucester and just around the corner is Fish-Pier at the head of the Inner Harbor.”

The approach to the bridge they dubbed “Rail Cut Hill”.

Original plans pre 1953, 1953, & 1954

Some of the homes date from this time. Department of Public Works, Gloucester, MA. Higher resolution PDF here – or lower resolution images below

ca. 1950 (scan from original)

1953

1954

2021 Bertoni neighborhood

Approximately 3 months project nearing completion (thanks to digging into standard clay rather than granite ledge). This week, the crews have reached the storm water drain reconfiguration stage.

View from Bertoni Rd. to RT. 128. Old clay sewer line deliberately closed 2021. Bertoni Rd. is a dead end street that originally connected to Gloucester Avenue (on the other side of the highway)

Salt Island Road | Brier (Briar) Neck neighborhood

In contrast, Salt Island Road, Brier/Briar Neck neighborhood took six months for similar work because of granite ledge and compact density.

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