Main St Update: Work scheduled to start soon; expect tree removals and drainage work

Above: Before shots and after “renderings” of the Reconstruction project previewed that a row of cherry trees on Main St would be replaced with a different species. But the exact variety is still TBD. (images cropped from 75% phase project renderings)

An announcement by the Town alerted that work is slated to start on the Main Street Reconstruction project. But the alert and a local media story raised some questions for me about plans for trees along the eastern section of the project. I followed up with Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan for some more details.

Although the project work is listed as able to start today, it may be a little longer until shovels are in the ground (or trees get the axe.) The project schedule is still a bit loose and mostly under state control.*

Of course, as with most improvement projects, things will be uglier downtown before they get better. The Town posted:

The Main Street Project is set to begin on April 1, 2019 and be completed in November 2020.

  • Work in 2019 will generally consist of tree removal, water main replacement, drainage upgrades, third party utility work, stone wall work and some curbing and sidewalk work.
  • Water main replacement work is currently planned to begin on the west end of the project (Sears Road) and move east.
  • Drainage work will likely proceed in the same direction, with the drainage work beginning after the water main work has progressed along the route.
  • Water and drainage work will be happening simultaneously for several weeks throughout the 2019 construction season.
  • Third party utility work, generally utility pole and wire work, will be performed throughout the construction season and will happen simultaneously with all other project work.
  • Stone wall relocation and construction will likely begin mid-spring.
  • Some curbing and sidewalk work is planned to begin late summer into the early fall.
  • New pavement should not be expected in 2019.

Galligan does expect trees will start coming down this month. But she didn’t have exact dates. As an update posted to the Town website today clarifies:

The Main Street Project is a State project, not a local project. Details of the schedule are determined by the State and the contractor, although the Town will have input and access to the information, we will not necessarily have day to day information.

Note: If you’d like to be emailed whenever the Town has project updates, click here to register for their e-alert system.

Cherry Trees on Main Street (photo from May 2014 by Beth Melo)Southborough Wicked Local posted, that crews are planning to take down marked trees starting next week. You can read their story here.

The story highlighted that it includes the row of 8 cherry trees to the east of the public safety stations.

I wondered when trees would be replanted and what variety they would be. Renderings and 75% plans shared with residents prior to the Special Town Meeting vote in 2016 showed that replacements would be Ivory Silk Japanese Lilacs or something similar. But in the 100% plans submitted to MassDOT, 6 of the replacements were listed as a cherry variety. Galligan told me not to expect either of those. 

According to Galligan, they are still working on revising the plan for trees. They have some time for that since replanting won’t likely happen until around the fall of 2020.

Public Works will be looking at choices from varieties more native to our region. She confirmed it was to support the “Native Pollinator • Native Plant” efforts that the Open Space Preservation Commission is promoting. But she qualified that their choices might not fit exactly with OSPC’s preferences. Since trees need to be hearty enough to thrive where they are planted they may be hybrid/engineered varieties.

*Galligan said, that the crew will adhere to certain restrictions by the Town for specific areas on specific days when needed.

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