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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 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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