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Friday, August 1, 2014

Progress, setbacks for Broad Street Parkway project

NASHUA – While most of the Broad Street Parkway project is humming along reasonably well, its manager told the Board of Public Works on Thursday, one segment – the drilling for the Fairmount Street river crossing – has hit a few sour notes.

John Vancor, in his regular update to the board, said the contractors installing the large shafts into which permanent supports are inserted are having trouble getting into the bedrock, a problem that has slowed the operation and put it about three months behind schedule. ...

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NASHUA – While most of the Broad Street Parkway project is humming along reasonably well, its manager told the Board of Public Works on Thursday, one segment – the drilling for the Fairmount Street river crossing – has hit a few sour notes.

John Vancor, in his regular update to the board, said the contractors installing the large shafts into which permanent supports are inserted are having trouble getting into the bedrock, a problem that has slowed the operation and put it about three months behind schedule.

The drilling phase, Vancor said, should have been completed by now, but the slow going has forced the contractors to push back the estimated date of completion for the entire segment of the project to July 30 from the original date of May 1.

“It’s a big operation. They’re having trouble getting them in,” Vancor said of the shafts, which require crews to drill 6 feet into bedrock before they can “socket” the support posts into the rock.

While that issue doesn’t necessarily mean the August 2015 completion of the whole Broad Street Parkway project is in jeopardy, Vancor and Mayor Donnalee Lozeau discussed the possibility of charging the contractor for the delay in the form of “liquidated damages,” which are essentially a penalty assessed when one party in a contract deviates from its stipulations – in this case, a delay.

Also discussed by the board at Thursday’s meeting were several motions to approve Parkway-related items, among them a roughly $350,000 agreement with a Nashua contractor for demolition and renovation work on the Millyard building known as Storehouse No. 2; about $65,000 to replace the Millyard fire pump; and a contract with another firm to do “retrofit” work on Storehouse No. 2 in an amount not to exceed $43,000.

Each motion passed unanimously.

On another topic heard Thursday, city attorney Stephen Bennett explained a change in a proposal brought by Verizon Wireless to construct a new cell tower in Mine Falls Park to replace the existing one.

Bennett said Verizon suggested putting up the new tower rather than spending roughly twice as much money to reinforce the current one, which it plans to share with other cell providers.

The fact the current tower is operating at 105 percent of its load capacity makes it more prudent to put up a new one, which, with existing providers and Verizon sharing it, would only be at 80 percent capacity, Bennett said.

The firm also would cover the cost of moving the equipment to the new tower and taking down the old one.

The board decided to table the measure, which Bennett said is scheduled to go before the Planning Board in early September.

Meanwhile, the good news with the parkway project, Vancor told the board, is that the rest of the so-called “Parkway North” phase has seen “a lot of progress” of late.

Cement slabs have been poured along the route and the sidewalk panels are ready to be installed, he said. The process of relocating utility lines on Broad Street and up to Baldwin Street is moving along on schedule, and a retaining wall “is 95 percent complete.”

All that is good news, Vancor said, because, with school starting in about a month, he’s pushing to open Baldwin Street to traffic as soon as possible.

“The latest it would be is Nov. 1,” he said, which is the date it is scheduled to open. But with Amherst Street School right there, “the earlier the better,” Vancor added.

As far as the Parkway South phase, between the Nashua River and where Pine, Central and Ledge streets meet, Vancor said he is awaiting a response from the state DOT Bureau of Right of Way, which the city hired years ago to coordinate and execute all eminent domain actions relating to the Broad Street Parkway, and to determine fair compensation for owners.

Most are complete, but Vancor said he hopes to hear by early next week on the few remaining pieces of the puzzle, one of which is a small section of a parcel at 33 Pine St.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).