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Bridge Street Debacle Needs An End Game

Residents and business owners deserve a spring completion.

As city dwellers, we all take certain things for granted.

Emergency services, street lights, and trash pick-up would all be a few of these things. A well maintained infrastructure would also have a place on that list.

When streets, sidewalks, or sewer lines need repair, we expect the city or the state to be right there to make those repairs. Taxes are paid at the municipal, state and federal level to insure that this happens.

Two years ago, the Bridge Street 1A Reconstruction Project began. Construction teams of all kinds have come and gone after ostensibly completing their portions of the project. On some sections of the street, attractive brick sidewalks have been completed. Period lighting has been installed. Other sections feature no sidewalks, lines of uninstalled curbing, and pedestrian crossing points with no crosswalks.

The project has been standing idle all winter and now seems to

Ceramaloy Carbide Sharpening Co. sits on the corner of Bridge and Lathrop streets, and has been in business there for 45 years. Owner Sharon Martin has been watching this project from the beginning.

"Initially they did a good job. Now, it is nothing but delays. Our business was affected in the beginning, but so much now," Martin said.

Martin would like to see the project finished as soon as possible but says, "our doors are open no matter what."

Down the street at and at , Achilles Xerras and his wife are taking a long-term view. Achilles runs the barber shop while his wife runs Stacia's Place. 

"I don't know whose fault it is, but supposedly they'll finish in the spring," Xerras said of the delays. He also offered support for Ward 2 Councilor Mike Sosnowski, mentioning help with a small parking issue the construction had created.

On Lathrop Street, , Jared Robinson and Erin Cyr are beginning to wonder just who is responsible for the problems and have made calls and sent emails in an attempt to gather information.

They shared some information and emails sent to city and state officials with me. They also showed me some growing cracks in their home that they believe were caused by the heavy equipment and trucks that frequent the front of the house.

Robinson has spoken with MassDOT representatives and has come to belief that the delays are more the fault of the city than any other entity. The state has encouraged that belief.

"There is a definite breakdown of communication between the city and the state. The state tells us one thing, and the city another. I am worried about this potential lawsuit. It will only set us further back," says Robinson.

Cyr sees it all, "as a huge quality of life issue. When your neighborhood looks like a war zone, it can affect the way people behave," she said.

Lathrop Street does indeed look rough, as do some sections of Bridge Street. Both residents and business owners have been waiting patiently for the project to finish. 

I am not here to say who is at fault — if only I were that smart. Suffice it to say that, as in all other aspects of life, there is probably blame to go around.

We can only hope that all parties can step back from the abyss of litigation to take a long breath. There are no problems too big that a little earnest and forthright conversation cannot solve. 

Those that live, work, and commute on Bridge Street and its surrounding neighborhoods deserve nothing less.

Salem Taxpayer January 30, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Where the heck is the City Engineer?
Don Nadeau January 30, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Aren't the contracts and permits and inspection reports public documents? They were when I was an inspector. Don't just guess: go take a thorough look at the paper trail to see what needs to be done and what is holding it up.
Jared Robinson January 30, 2012 at 02:55 PM
that's what the MassDOT rep asked me...
Jared Robinson January 30, 2012 at 03:20 PM
I've just written a (hopefully) poignant and expressive email to the councilors, mayor and city engineer in the hopes that SOMEONE can get something done and that a stream of communication between the city and state can take place and the project can finally come to a close. Please, follow us on http://www.facebook.com/salemward2 I'm trying my best here as a simple resident to get this finalized once and for all and share any communications that I hear with the rest of the community.
Eleanor L January 30, 2012 at 03:41 PM
According to Mass DOT website, Bridge St. project is not due to be finished until Spring 2013. Here is link to email address of Bernard LaVita, the state project engineer. Perhaps he should be contacted. http://www.mhd.state.ma.us/ProjectInfo/Main.asp?ACTION=ViewProject&PROJECT_NO=601017
Jared Robinson January 30, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Shame you can't go back in time to when it originally had a completion date of 2011.
Jared Robinson January 30, 2012 at 04:16 PM
also, I have contacted him via phone. He says he's waiting on the city engineer.
chester suchecki January 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM
looks to me like the city engineer is another political hack in hiding
Jared Robinson January 30, 2012 at 05:23 PM
how so? who is he answering to? according to the MassDOT, he's not answering to anyone. I've not had any correspondence with him in a long time, though I have emailed him about the project in the past.
Bryan Karsis January 30, 2012 at 06:15 PM
In a perfect world, the lessons learned from the apparent ball-dropping on this seemingly endless reconstruction project will have a positive impact on two of the other massive road projects MassDOT has in store for us in the not-too-distant future — #5399 (widening of Bridge Street to four lanes from Flint Street to the North Street interchange) and #605146 (reconstruction of Canal Street from Washington Street to Loring Ave) — and both will cause minimal headaches for the residents and be finished reasonably close to their projected end dates. In the real world, however, we should expect another decade of finger pointing and shoulder shrugging when the projects sit half-completed and idle for months at a time.
Jared Robinson January 30, 2012 at 06:20 PM
If it were up to the MassDOT, they wouldn't deal with Salem ever again if they could... Apparently this debacle is as much a thorn in the side of the MassDOT as it is the residents of Salem
john January 30, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Department heads under Mayor Driscoll do not return calls about anything that is negative in nature. That is why they ask why you are calling. I have had first hand experience with this response problem from the City Building Inspector and DPW Director. They know they screwed up and will not talk about it or accept any liability for their lack of duty.
Jared Robinson January 31, 2012 at 04:43 PM
So, I brought the concerns of the MA DOT rep to a few people's attention yesterday (particularly that they claim to be awaiting info from the city) and this surprised at least one person enough for them to dig in a little deeper. I've also heard from other people that the City Engineer currently holds no paperwork for the MA DOT that would cause any delay. Also, the 2013 completion date seems to be being milked by the contractors... they plan on being done by 2013 and apparently seem to be in no rush (nor under any legal obligation) to finish before then. I'm interested to see how this plays out.
Jared Robinson February 01, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Apparently some of the comments I made and an email I sent to a variety of people 'in charge' have made it to the mayor and apparently a meeting was called today with all the involved parties (State and City) to get to the bottom of this. I'm hoping for a positive response from this soon.
Jared Robinson February 03, 2012 at 02:27 PM
So, due to character limitations, you'll have to read the email from the city here: http://www.facebook.com/salemward2 but you'll all be happy to hear that the expected completion date has been moved from 2013 to early summer 2012!
Salem is my home February 06, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Jared R, good for you, but it might have been better NOT to have impugned the motives, actions, qualifications, etc. of the City Engineer before you got all the facts! (And no, I'm not married to the engineer nor do I work for the City. I just live there!)
Jared Robinson February 06, 2012 at 04:34 PM
please note, I've never blamed the city engineer. I'm only relaying what was told to me by the state at the time... and they were blaming the city engineer. I even defended the city engineer by saying that he claimed (at that time) to hold NO awaiting approvals for the state to complete work and against Chester's claim that he's some kind of 'political hack'. I'm telling both sides of the story here.
Jared Robinson February 06, 2012 at 04:38 PM
and if I did come off as that, please cite the example so I can either defend myself or apologize, because I did not mean to come off as pointing blame either way. You can see in other posts I've made on this that in the past I was FIRMLY blaming the construction contractor for taking their sweet time... and also for some of the unprofessional things that they did that is 100% their fault.
Justine April 25, 2012 at 03:19 AM
I live on Bridge Street. Last fall, they tore up my sidewalk, left it for two months, and threw down some uneven pavement over the winter. About a month ago, they dug it up again, put down a curb that makes it nearly impossible to get into my driveway, and have left it dirt ever since. It is unbelievable. Whoever is responsible owes me money for a car wash and some new tires.
Jared Robinson April 25, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Contact the councilors. Explain the damage with proof and you might get it fixed

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