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Three-year Ferry Street project is off and running

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  The long-awaited reconstruction of Ferry Street is now underway.

  During the April 11 City Council meeting, Engineering Director Eric Swanson said the project began one week earlier and will take three years to complete. He said the project will cover two-and-a-half miles of roadway and sidewalks. In addition, Chelsea Street, Elm Street and South Ferry Street will also be included in the project. Some of the refurbishments will include four new traffic signals, a rotary at Chelsea and South Ferry Streets, water main replacements and drainage improvements as well as gas and electrical upgrades. The first leg of the project will include water and drainage work under South Ferry Street.

  Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Matewsky raised concerns about the duration of the project. “Three years, that’s a long time,” he said. “I’m concerned about the businesses; there must be 50 businesses, maybe more. But I understand progress; Ferry Street is a mess.”

  Swanson said that while three years is not unusual for a project of this magnitude, he assured Matewsky that not all of Ferry Street will be continuously under construction until 2025.

  Although the project bears a hefty price tag of $33 million, Swanson said $25 million will be covered by the Federal Highway Administration with the remaining $8 million being funded by the City of Everett.

  Because of work being done on the water mains, Fire Chief Scott Dalrymple said, the number of available fire hydrants will be reduced in that part of the city. Therefore, he said a plan is in place to fight fires with a limited water supply. “The plan will change as time goes on,” he said. “We’ll learn from this year’s issues what not to do.”

  However, Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins said such an approach would create unnecessary risks coupled with potentially catastrophic consequences. “That’s a little concerning because people might die,” she said.

  Kristopher Surette, a project engineer for WorldTech Engineering, said Albanese D&S in Dracut was selected as the primary contractor. He also said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will have inspectors on site at all times. In addition, Surette agreed to have a clerk of the works available to speak with residents and city officials. “We will be methodical as we move along,” he said.

City Council approves High School SOI

  In other news, the council voted unanimously to approve the Statement of Interest for a new high school.

  However, Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani emphasized that a new school is the long-term goal. “What we are actually asking for is space,” she said. “We are in dire need of space. We are concerned about what we’re going to do in the fall.”

  Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese said he is “perplexed” about the need for a new school and recommended using space at the former Pope John XXIII High School. “We have a perfectly good, useful school; we have about $40 million in COVID funds which could be used to convert that school and alleviate the overcrowding,” he said. “Even if we approve a new school now, it’s going to be five to six years to have it built.”

  Tahiliani said the process could take up to seven years. “We’re on step 1C of the process,” she said. “We’re open to any options at this point.”

  Assistant Superintendent of Operations Charles Obremski said Everett High School is exceeding its capacity by 387 students. As a result, nine spaces have been converted into classrooms since the school opened in 2007. However, he said those spaces were never intended to be used for that purpose.

  Obremski also spoke about the option of utilizing space on the second and third floors of the former Everett High School. However, he said “extensive work” would be needed to make that possible. “There’s probably no Internet access,” said Obremski, adding that significant improvements would also be needed for the building’s HVAC system.

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