WINCHESTER - The Winchester Select Board approved a request from National Grid to conduct night work in the area of Holton, East and Cross Street near the Woburn line from 6 - 12 p.m. over the course of two consecutive nights with a third night to follow a week or two later.
The work involves replacing leaking gas lines by replacing the existing gas main with a new one. The current one was installed in 1904.
Shayne Charlesworth, representing National Grid, originally asked for up to 10 nights, but modified his proposal saying his crew could get the work done in three nights. One of the nights can be a weekend night.
He also originally requested to work from 7 p.m. until 2 or 3 a.m., but the board felt more comfortable if he started at 6 p.m. and ended by midnight. Charlesworth said even with the modified hours his crew could still finish in three days.
The board first heard the request two weeks ago, but postponed a vote at the time to allow residents to weigh in and offer their thoughts. Several residents did come forward including Ellen Cammarata who asked why they needed to work at night. She said they could have a police detail during the daytime to deal with traffic because there are no stop signs or traffic signals in the area.
“People already leave there by 1 p.m.,” she noted, adding there shouldn’t be a traffic problem.
Another resident, Susan Busher, asked if there could be traffic detours during the day to offset the need for night work.
“Have people seek an alternate route,” she suggested.
She added how the area can be dangerous with all the tractor trailers. Busher also wondered if National Grid had notified businesses and Winchester Hospital who uses a parking lot in the area. Charlesworth said they sent out notices two weeks before they started work to both Winchester and Woburn neighbors.
Also, any noise during the night hours will be the same as during the daytime, according to Charlesworth.
Select Board member Michael Bettencourt asked if the move to nighttime hours concerned safety and Charlesworth replied in the affirmative. He echoed Busher’s statements about the abundance of tractor trailers, stating how dangerous it could be to close off one lane to traffic.
He said they’d get the work done quicker at night by a week or two.
When asked about closing down the entire street, Charlesworth noted that’s the police department’s decision.
DPW Director Jay Gill stated he also preferred night work, but asked if it could be curbed at midnight instead of 2 or 3 a.m. Once all parties agreed, Charlesworth said he’d inform residents ahead of time, before they started any night work.
It should be noted the work won’t affect gas service until the scheduled appointment time with each residence.
Although the board eventually approved the night hours, chairman Mariano Goluboff understood residents’ concerns (though he said he had almost no good alternatives).
“It’s a tough situation,” he admitted, but added that leaking gas mains are a serious problem.