Published in the November 25, 2016 edition

MELROSE — The city issued the following update on the Essex Street corridor:

The Engineering Division of the Public Works Department has overseen a number of improvements to Essex Street to complement the new development underway in the area.

Following the approval of a new LCB Senior Living residential complex at the bend of Essex Street, the city decided to make upgrades to the surrounding area. In addition to repaving all of Essex Street, on the surface the project added Victorian lighting between Myrtle and Main Streets, designated a bike lane, and improved pedestrian accessibility in the area in the form of additional ramps and crosswalks. The area of Willow Street between Cherry and Essex was also repaved. “We wanted to make Essex Street more of an extension of Main Street, incorporate it into downtown and give it the same look and feel as Main Street,” explained City Engineer Elena Proakis Ellis, adding that the work should also “improve the economic development of this corridor.” Pedestrians and residents of the area will be able to enjoy these extremely visible improvements day-to-day.

Moreover, utility services on and underneath Essex Street have been enhanced. DPW crews have replaced city-owned water services to properties wherever the pipes were made of lead or cast iron, while also improving the area’s drainage via new catch basins, manholes, and pipelines. Additionally, the city used CCTV technology to survey the street’s sewers via remote cameras attached to robotic crawlers that make their way through the sewer lines and send the video back to monitors above-ground.

The project began in the fall of 2015 and was substantially completed last August. Much of the necessary funding for the project came from a MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant, which the city qualified for thanks to the aforementioned new housing developments. The grant amounts to a total of $641,000, and the remaining costs are covered by developers who have done recent projects along the corridor (about $150,000) and the state’s Chapter 90 roadway program (up to $200,000).

Public Works hopes residents and pedestrians have been enjoying the upgrades to Essex Street. “The city’s really excited about this project and about the impact it’s going to have to the businesses and the residents on Essex Street,” Ms. Proakis stated. “I think it’s a really positive project for the city.”

DPW Director John Scenna wanted to thank the various individuals who worked together as a committee at setting the vision for this project and ultimately for what this corridor looks like today.