SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 15, 2014

National Grid work downtown delayed

Business owners want gas mains replaced in off-season

SALEM — Officials say National Grid has agreed to delay a construction project on Derby Street and Hawthorne Boulevard this week after fielding complaints that it would be too disruptive to the city’s downtown businesses.

The energy company had planned to replace gas mains and other equipment between 158 and 285 Derby St. and 1 and 24 Hawthorne Blvd. in anticipation of its controversial project to replace two underground transmission cables that run between substations at Salem Harbor Station and on Canal Street.

Replacing the pipeline sections would allow the cable-replacement project to move along faster, said city engineer David Knowlton. Other work zones will include, at some point, Washington Square South, Fort Avenue, and Webb, Essex, Leavitt and Congress streets.

When National Grid sent out notices to project abutters last Wednesday saying work could last until July 3, the city received complaints from several local businesses, Knowlton said.

“We heard from some concerned businesses that that would be disruptive,” he said.

Although both Derby Street and Hawthorne Boulevard were expected to remain open to traffic during the work, parking might have been limited. National Grid also warned that there could be a delay in restoration of the street or sidewalks.

On Tuesday, Mayor Kim Driscoll and other city officials met with local business representatives and National Grid. In attendance was George Carey, owner of Finz restaurant on Pickering Wharf, who said yesterday the local business community would benefit “not to have another infrastructure project on a busy road” during the city’s busiest season.

“We just think it makes a lot of sense to do it off-season,” said Carey. “It’s much more balanced if it’s done November through March.”

After the meeting, National Grid decided to postpone the project to an unspecified date. Spokesperson Jake Navarro said in an email that the company would “take a step back and re-evaluate the schedule for this work.”

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