WILMINGTON — Town Engineer Paul Alunni and representatives from TEC presented updates on the MassWorks Grant and project timeline for the culvert replacement project on Route 62 for the Board of Selectmen on Monday night.
Alunni opened by detailing how a shortfall in funding had led him to seek state approval for an additional $1 million for the total culvert, sewer, and roadway project, which the state provided.
While Alunni stressed the highlight of the additional funding, he said that the project’s importance does come with short-term consequences with regard to traffic.
“We’re looking at a temporary full closure of Route 62,” he said. He assured the board that they began coordinating with the police and fire departments already around traffic impacts to emergency services and would soon coordinate with the school department for traffic planning. The culvert project, he estimated, would begin in a few months.
The representatives from TEC explained that the culvert to be replaced was located on Route 62 or Middlesex Avenue between Jefferson Road and North Street. It had been created in 1960 with a 50-year lifespan. Due to its age, the culvert had been sagging to the point where it was rated by Mass DOT as a “severe major deficiency.”
They also pointed out that due to the location of the culvert, normal construction options like a temporary alignment shift or phased construction weren’t feasible. Therefore, the road does need to be closed in that section completely for 30 days. Before the closure, the plan included cutting the gas line, installing erosion controls, providing written notice to the town, and placing message boards at each end of the culvert.
During the 30 days the street would be closed, there would be two separate detours put in place: a route on I-93 for trucks, and a route from High Street to Woburn Street to Concord Street to Federal Street for all other vehicles. They talked about signs on 93 which had already been approved by Mass DOT and messages on Route 62 which could change by project stage.
By the time the 30 days are up, the construction efforts would cover removing the existing culvert barrels, installing adjacent manholes and sewer lines, installing the new culvert, and creating a single lane to be open with an operating signal. The single lane closure would last for 42 days, during which they would install guardrail and sidewalks and pave the road.
They mentioned this part would likely cause the most delay due to the way that the traffic signal operates. Finally, for 60 days they would need to have two lanes open while still finishing the final details.
The culvert project is estimated to take four months from start to finish. They said they’re pushing for the project to mostly take place over the summer knowing that school buses would be interrupted by traffic if school is in session.
Selectman Kevin Caira recommended putting up a sign in front of the train tracks informing drivers not to stop on the tracks. From the audience, DPW Operations Manager/Tree Warden Jamie Magaldi mentioned that some signs could be added on the fly according to traffic needs.
Greg Bendel’s main issue was about police and fire response times for issues in North Wilmington, as they would normally go through the road closure area. Alunni responded that he’d been talking with the police department on this project for over a year, and their current discussion pertained to a temporary police safety substation on the other side of the culvert.
Gary DePalma asked them to clarify the work hours, which they said would be 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., six days a week, in order to keep 30 days a realistic timeline for the complete road closure. They would try to shorten the 42 days with a one lane road but be sure to work with the school transportation department.
Judy O’Connell asked about a plan to notify nearby businesses and residents. Alunni responded that he would send letters to businesses and residents with his contact information along with the use of social media and the town website so that residents could reach out with concerns and feedback. He also alleviated her concerns about finances and materials, including how Princeton Properties contributed some money for the roadway improvements planned for next year.
Magaldi gave Alunni a shoutout for his work securing the extra $1 million during what he called an “unprecedented construction time.”