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MWRA warns Route 1 project to snarl traffic

SAUGUS – Expect delays.That was among the messages delivered Thursday night by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) during a public information meeting focused on a Route 1 project set to begin in May.The $5-million undertaking involves laying miles of drinking water pipelines along the highway to improve pressure and volume to Lynnfield and Saugus.Although the meeting at Saugus Town Hall was sparsely attended, MWRA design manager Maureen McAvoy delivered a detailed overview of the project. The work will impact the area between the Shops at Saugus and the Lynnfield town line, she said, adding that geo-technical surveys show sub-surface rocks which must be blasted.According to McAvoy, the pipeline route follows the northbound side of the highway from the Shops at Saugus to Walnut Street where it crosses Route 1 and continues northward along the southbound lane to Lynnfield.MWRA construction coordinator Eleanor Duffy said the project encompasses 730 calendar days, with completion slated for Jan. 17, 2013. The calendar includes two winter moratoriums from Dec. 1 to March 15.Albanese Brothers of Saugus and Dracut is the general utility contractor. No work will be done on weekends. The workweek begins Sunday at 9 p.m. and ends Friday at 5 a.m.”Abutters (primarily businesses) really have to live with us and work with us for two years,” said Duffy, emphasizing the need to cooperate as the heaviest construction nears their respective businesses.Duffy said abutters and motorists should expect traffic congestion, excavation, blasting, vibration, rodent control, noise and dust. The latter two conditions will be monitored by an acoustical engineer and vigilant sweeping, she said.On most days, Route 1 will be reduced to two lanes from 9-11 p.m., and to one lane from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., Duffy said.Duffy also advised abutters and area residents to participate in the pre-blast and post-blast survey. “It is in everybody’s best interest,” she said. “Document the condition of your property before and after construction.”Route 1 will be completely closed during blasting operations.Duffy explained the project will begin in May near the Dunkin’ Donuts on the southbound side of the highway near Lynnfield and move south to the Salvation Army store. By July, the work should be approaching Walgreens, still on the southbound side.In the fall, the work will require crossing Route 1 near Walnut Street, among the more complicated parts of the project. The trench work will then proceed south to the Hess gas station, bringing to a close the first year. Work will resume in spring 2012.Saugus Public Works Director Joseph Attubato asked if the MWRA would install gate valves in case the town’s aging water pipes break during construction. The valves would allow the town to shut down sections of water pipe to make repairs without cutting off the entire neighborhood.MWRA spokesman Jeffrey McLaughlin assured him a special meeting would be arranged and the situation remedied.Selectman Scott Crabtree asked for assurance that the MWRA remain will in contact with Route 1 businesses as the project continues, as did Saugus Chamber of Commerce President Sean Grant. McLaughlin said the agency would contact Grant routinely to disseminate information through media outlets.”Every four months we will have a meeting at the location to discuss the situation,” said Grant, who recently called a meeting of Saugus businesses likely to be most affected.

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