Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


July 10, 2014

Town detours hit roadblocks; Police details lacking for summer road projects

Police details lacking for summer road projects

One day last month, Fred Furnari was late for a work appointment because a contractor installing a new sewer line on River Road had dug a 10-foot-deep trench across the street he lives on.

On another day, the Furnari Farm Lane resident lost town water service. Then, with no warning, he lost electricity. For several days, he got no mail.

Several times, he said, home-health aides trying to get to the house to help his mother were unable to navigate the ever-changing network of detours and road construction blockades. He said they had to park a half-mile away and walk. Or else they would just turn around and go back to their offices.

Furnari has been at ground zero of what is probably one of the busiest and most disruptive construction seasons Andover has seen in many years.

River Road, now open to traffic, was rerouted for two months on a private sewer project that was only supposed to last a few weeks. Elm and Chestnut streets are being dug up for water, sewer and hydrant work.

National Grid is in the process of tearing up streets and neighborhoods all over town to replace aging, underground electrical conduits. And paving projects are being done in earnest, taking advantage of warm weather and state and private funding sources.

Making matters worse is that the multiple detours — marked with a mix of cones, barrels and sawhorses — are often unmanned because there aren’t enough police officers, retired cops or firefighters to work overtime details to direct traffic and answer questions from bewildered drivers.

“It happens this time of year with people using vacation time,” Andover police Commander Charles Heseltine said. “All departments deal with it. But it’s sporadic. We’ll go a couple of weeks where we have more work than we have men available to work. Usually it’s around these couple of weeks. Some weeks, there’s no problem at all. It depends on how much work there is.”

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