Ongoing construction work on Bridge Street has unnerved drivers for more than a year, but for those who live in the neighborhood, it has become a daily trial.
The $6.9 million project for replacement of utility lines, which began in February of last year, won't be finalized until 2012.
Neighborhood resident Erin Cyr hopes the end result, including the replacement of the sidewalks and light fixtures and the addition of a bike path, is worth it.
For Cyr, her husband Jared Robinson, and their two-year old son, the day begins with being awakened by construction vehicles and, on several occasions, ends with unwanted nighttime visitors including scrap metal poachers.
The family's home on Lathrop Street is shaken by heavy equipment rumbling down the street — a wall has cracked and objects have fallen off the shelves.
The street has been used for storage of large pieces of equipment and metal containers, and the potholes and broken pavement make it look like a "war zone," Robinson said.
"It's been going on long enough," Cyr said. "Why do we have to be the storage zone for all of this?"
The biggest concern, she said, is that scrap metal left by the construction company has become a magnet for metal poachers who sometimes come in the middle of the night.
"This kind of stuff attracts a bit of a criminal element," Cyr said. "I think a lot of people in this neighborhood are really hopeful that this project will make this part of the city grow and prosper, and we don't want those kind of people here."
Because of the poor economy and the high price of metal, there has been an increase in scrap collectors and theft, according to Salem Police Capt. Robert Griffin, commanding officer of the SPD Criminal Investigation Division.
But unless the the construction company makes a complaint about people stealing metal, it's not a crime, Griffin said.
"If the construction company is trying to get rid of the stuff anyway, they may just leave it out for people to take," Griffin said. "There's no victim if the company doesn't complain."
Griffin said he understands neighbors' concerns as a "quality of life issue," and noted that the scrap metal may attract some "unsavory characters."
Based on calls to SPD from the neighbors, the matter has been noted on the roll call so that patrols are aware to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, Griffin said.
"If they see something, they'll check on it," he said.
Mainly, the neighbors' concerns are "not a police matter unless it's a safety issue," Griffin said.
The Squeaky Wheel
After months of residents making fruitless complaints, things may finally be turning around for the neighborhood.
Robinson said the construction company recently began storing scrap metal in a container instead of leaving it lying in a pile on the ground.
And the equipment clogging Lathrop Street may finally be moved.
Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski said he has been sending all of the e-mails he has received from residents to the city engineer, David Knowlton, who has told him that the company will be moving its equipment to a different staging area.
But Sosnowski wondered why it has taken months for the message to get through.
Although he sees the construction work as necessary, the way it has been handled has been "devastating" for neighborhood businesses.
"Is it necessary? Yes," Sosnowski said. "But I believe it could have been done a whole lot better, with respect for the neighborhood."
Editor's Note: On Wednesday morning, Robinson reported equipment had been moved from Lathrop Street, though there are still large potholes. Be sure to check out our original story on Bridge Street to join the conversation and stay up on the latest from residents.