WINCHESTER - The Select Board this week approved a Grant of Location for an MWRA project to install 250-feet of new 48-inch water main on Eugene Drive (near I-93 and the Stoneham line) between station 43+00 and station 45+50 and to install 300-feet of new 48-inch water main on Eugene Drive between station 45+50 and 48+50. This work is necessary to replace approximately 10,500 feet of existing 48-inch diameter water main in Winchester, Woburn and Stoneham.
Members of the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority came before the board back in March (the last time the board met in person) to outline the project which they said would begin this fall in Woburn. Construction won’t begin in Winchester until 2022. The entire project should finish by 2023.
The Town of Winchester receives approximately 50 percent of its water from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA). In all, the MWRA provides wholesale water and wastewater services to more than three million customers in 61 communities mostly in eastern Massachusetts.
The water flows to Winchester from the Wachusett Reservoir in Worcester, then though Boylston, Northborough, Southborough, Framingham, Wayland, Weston, Newton, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Malden, Melrose, Stoneham, and finally into Winchester and then Woburn. Once in the area, it flows up to the Turkey Hill Tank in Arlington and down into Winchester. It’s also pumped from the newly rehabilitated Gillis Pump Station in Stoneham up to the Bear Hill Tank and down into Winchester.
This area is the only pipeline in the system with pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe with brittle wire issues, which has been the cause of many catastrophic breaks around the country.
The entire project consists of replacing 10,300 feet of 48-inch water transmission main, abandoning 6,000 feet of Section 29 and replacing air valves, blow off valves and line valves. A small portion of the project will involve on street construction on Forest Street and Eugene Drive in Winchester. Upon completion, the MWRA said the roads would be repaved curb-to-curb.
On Eugene Drive, Town Engineer Beth Rudolph said the project has been moved onto the street before it reaches Forest Street. She said neither her department nor the DPW had any concerns.
Project Manager Patrick Barrett said the project would replace 2,000 feet of pipe in Winchester and Stoneham and 4,000 feet in Woburn. Pushing the work out into the street on Eugene Drive will move the pipe off private properties, Barrett said.
The project manager added the MWRA has been to the Conservation Committee and received a draft order of conditions. He also said they would replace trees in the area since some will be taken down during construction. They’ll be contacting property owners in Winchester with Stoneham next.
One property owner on Eugene Drive, Cyril Kwong, had concerns about the removal of trees. He said they provide a barrier to the street. He asked if the MWRA could move the project up the road.
Gina Britton, also from the MWRA, said she couldn’t answer that question now, but added they received the order from the Conservation Commission and “might have to revisit the permit we already have” to make that happen.
Britton added it wouldn’t be easy to move the pipe. Per the tree issue, she said they could work with arborists to plant something to provide some type of screening. Barrett noted the trees wouldn’t survive anyway, so they’ll work with the Tree Warden and Conservation Commission and make Kwong part of the discussion.
In fact, the board made the Grant of Location approval contingent upon the MWRA and Kwong working together. Barrett said they would “look for a middle-of-the-road solution.”
In the meantime, Barrett suggested some type of fencing.
“This won’t be a million dollar fence,” he joked, before proposing a temporary fence. “We would be willing to work with that.”
Kwong seemed agreeable, stating the MWRA could do a fence after construction and then trees later.
Once the MWRA finishes Eugene Drive, they’ll be on to Forest Street. Select Board member Mariano Goluboff asked if they would shut down Forest Street completely or leave one lane open. Barrett said they’re working with police and fire and their goal is to leave one lane open (either one way or both ways), but they “can’t make any promises.”
Goluboff asked the MWRA to notify residents on Keenan Drive (a side street off Forest) so they could get their vehicles out before construction starts.