SALEM — Orange cones, traffic-directing officers and excavators in the road mean work has started on the first phase of a multiyear construction project to overhaul Canal Street.
This summer, construction crews are focusing on the project’s first phase: water, sewer and drainage improvements. Work began July 30, and phase one is expected to be finished by December, said Beth Debski, the city’s Building Salem coordinator.
“This is the first step in improving this area,” Debski said. “It’s a much-needed project.”
The $16 million project will rebuild Canal Street over the course of several years. Phase two, a state-funded project to fix and level the roadway, will be done in 2014, said Debski. The third phase, a city project to correct flooding issues, will be done in the year following.
It’s often the joke that Canal Street lives up to its name, as the corridor is prone to flooding — even to the point of becoming impassable.
This summer’s drainage work will stretch from Forest Avenue to Laurel Street.
The largest portion of work will focus on the Ocean Avenue and Broadway intersections, said Debski. There’s so much underground infrastructure there that the road will need to be closed for roughly one month of work.
Starting the week of Aug. 12, the Ocean/Broadway portion of Canal Street will be closed on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The roadway will be passable on nights and weekends, Debski said.
“That’s the only time the road will be (fully) closed,” she said.
For the remainder of the project, traffic will always be kept moving, Debski said, even if it’s restricted to alternating one-way flow.
Residents of surrounding neighborhoods will be notified by the city anytime their water or electricity will be temporarily shut off during construction. Residents of any households that cannot have utility shutoffs because of a medical or other urgent need should contact City Hall.