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December 16, 2013

Marblehead drainage work ends for winter

Construction made summer difficult for downtown businesses

MARBLEHEAD — The construction trucks and detail officers are no more.

This comes as a sigh of relief for downtown business owners and residents who endured a tough few months as the $4.9 million drainage improvement project overtook much of the area this summer and fall. The project is far from over, however. Crews are set to return April 15 to resume work on a project expected to last the next two years.

Construction crews completed all major work for the winter at the beginning of this month, according to Amy McHugh, superintendent of the water and sewer department. Most of the work in this phase was concentrated on Atlantic Avenue and Essex and Spring streets.

Workers are replacing outdated culverts and pipes to alleviate flooding. Crews had to work around ledge and have utilities moved for the first phase.

”Construction-wise, the project went very smoothly,” McHugh said. “The contractor was excellent. He worked well with the town departments, businesses and residents.”

McHugh said phase one will have to be completed in the spring because workers were able to make it only halfway up Spring Street before the shutdown.

She acknowledged that the construction was difficult for businesses but said the work typically wasn’t in front of one particular store’s driveway for more than one day.

”It was a large trench through our business district,” she said.

The construction made it tricky for people to park, caused traffic backups and blocked access to certain areas of the downtown during what is considered the busiest time of year for many businesses.

“I don’t think a lot of people wanted to come downtown,” said Chet Strout, owner of Chet’s Video & Candy Shoppe on Essex Street. But he weathered the disruptions.

”Our business was a little off this summer, but it wasn’t drastic,” he said.

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