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Factory Street upgrade advances

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Work on the reconstruction of a busy stretch of Factory Street won’t start for another year or so, but the approximately $6 million project cleared a major hurdle last week.

The Watertown City Council unanimously agreed last Monday that the Latham engineering firm of AECOM will draw up the final detailed design plans for the reconstruction of a half-mile section of Factory Street.

The firm completed the preliminary plans for the project, from the intersection of Mill Street and Public Square to Huntington Street.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said Sunday night that the project could spur development in an area that has some blight and deteriorating properties.

“It’s an important road,” he said.

The design portion will end up costing $1,760,000. So far, there is $940,000 in authorized state and federal government reimbursement for its design, City Manager Sharon A. Addison wrote in a Feb. 25 memo to council members.

City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk said he hopes to put the project out for bid in December, with work starting in about a year. The federal government will pay for 80 percent of the project’s construction cost, the state will pay 15 percent and the city will pay the remainder.

The project will completely redo the road, including replacing 120-year-old storm and sanitary sewers, sidewalks and curbing.

It was originally going to start either last fall or this spring, but the state delayed the project until 2015.

Mr. Hauk has described the project as similar to the State Street project that was completed several years ago, but the Factory Street project will be about half of its length. It most likely will take two construction seasons to finish, Mr. Hauk said.

Last week, council members also authorized spending $352,000 to fund right-of-way acquisitions that will be needed to complete the project. The city will use a $2.2 million bond to pay for the design work.

The city has been working on advancing the project to this point for more than four years. In April 2010, city officials received notification from the state Department of Transportation that the reconstruction was added to the state’s Capital Construction Program and the federal Surface Transportation Program funding for the preliminary design work.

Advantage Watertown, a group of business and community leaders, has indicated it wants to make sure the many businesses on the stretch of Factory Street are kept abreast of the project.

Since then, the city has notified business and property owners about the project and held a meeting to discuss the work with them in December 2012. Other meetings are planned before the work begins.

Members of the Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, have talked about possibly offering low-interest loans to businesses that will be affected by the major project.

A similar loan program was established for businesses when Public Square underwent a major reconstruction several years ago, Mr. Graham said.

fACTORY STREET MAKEOVER
Details of the reconstruction:
nReplacement of the 120-year-old storm and sanitary sewers, sidewalks and curbing. nApproximately $6 million total price tag. nFederal government will pay 80 percent of project’s construction cost and the state will pay 15 percent. nProject to be put out to bid in December, with work expected to start in late winter.
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