DPW adjusts priorities amidst COVID-19 pandemic
The ongoing pandemic has meant shifting priorities for the Abington Public Works Department, but road improvement projects will continue, according to Superintendent John Stone.
Drivers on Washington and Hancock streets should be ready for some changes in coming weeks as portions of the road are repaved.
Stone said the stretch of Washington Street that runs from Rt. 18 to Thaxter Avenue will get a new coat of asphalt, as will Hancock Street from Rt. 139 to Chestnut Street. The roads will largely remain open during the work with the biggest interruption coming on days the old pavement is scraped up.
The exact start date is not known as the contractor, T. L. Edwards, is finishing up a project in another town. Money for the work is coming from the town’s annual state grant allocation for road and bridge repairs. Abington received $387,695 in this so-called Chapter 90 money for the budget year that ends June 30.
However, Stone isn’t sure about what other roads will be fixed this summer, as the state’s widening budget problems has left the next round of Chapter 90 grants in a state of limbo. The House and Senate has yet to debate or pass budget bills for the fiscal year starting July 1.
“I’m not sure what we’re getting for Chapter 90 this year,” he said, adding that until the town knows its grant allotment, he is unable to decide what streets will be repaired next.
Abington has 220 roads and about half of them are graded “below average,” Stone said.
Abington is, however, moving ahead with a project that will make Lincoln Boulevard and Gliniewicz Way more friendly for walkers and cyclists traveling to and from the town’s main government complex and the Beaver Brook School and Memorial Field. The town received a $400,000 grant under the state’s Complete Streets program, which helps municipalities make roadways accessible to multiple travel modes.
According to engineering plans, the broad swath of pavement along Lincoln Boulevard, which runs between Washington Street and Rt. 18, will be broken up with the addition of traffic islands down the center of the roadway. In addition, dedicated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists will be added along the north sides of both Lincoln Boulevard and Gliniewicz Way up to the middle/ high school.
Lincoln Boulevard is often used for parking for events at nearby Memorial Field. Stone said the redesign will not take away parking from the roadway.
The project will be put out to bid in the coming weeks; there is no official start date for the work.
Abington’s athletic fields have been closed to the public since mid-March, resulting in youth sports leagues either canceling or postponing their spring seasons. With fields requiring less maintenance, Stone said his crews have been focusing on other public works priorities. For example, town DPW crews have so far swept all 200 roads and are in the process of cleaning all 2,000 catch basins. Both tasks are now required under new federal and state stormwater pollution prevention regulations. They have also reset castings, fixed potholes, and installed berms in front of about 10 residential driveways to prevent stormwater from running down into private yards.
“In a typical year, we wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of the stuff we’re doing right now,” Stone said, crediting the department’s staff for staying on top of requests during the pandemic. “Our field staff hasn’t stopped working.”