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Gas Light District construction underway, officials seek to lessen impact


July 18, 2014

By Carley Dangona
carley@thereminder.com

WESTFIELD – Construction is underway in the Gas Light District. The city was working with the Westfield Business Improvement District (BID) to minimize the impact of the project to the community, but must now find alternate means of working with locals since the BID is now defunct.
   
The Gas Light project entails improvements such as updates to century-old water utilities, sanitary sewers and gas utilities; pavement and sidewalk reconstruction; on- and off-street parking enhancements; additional traffic signs and pavement markings; revamped street and pedestrian lighting; a pocket park; a fountain feature; and bulb outs, which improve the sidewalks to reduce the intersection crossing distance for pedestrians.
   
The long-awaited work started at the end of June and will continue for two construction seasons to 2016. The Gas Light District is bordered Elm, Court, Franklin and Washington streets. Gagliarducci Construction Inc. is responsible for the $5.9 million of work that is being funded by sewer and water fees. Traffic and parking will be affected on Summer, Spring, Arnold, Church, School and Central streets.
   
“It’s quite an undertaking,” City Engineer Mark Cressotti said. “A big effort on this project is orchestrating the work” to create the least possible impact to residents and business in the district and surrounding area.
   
He noted that the Engineering Department was working with the Westfield Business Improvement District (BID) to coordinate with local businesses about construction scheduling, but that collaboration was thwarted when the City Council approved the dissolution of the BID on July 7.
   
Cressotti said the project is “hugely important for the community.” He hoped the work will “truly give people a better sense of pride in their community.”
   
He added, “The primary motive is to improve the infrastructure to support development and to try to provide a little inspiration [for businesses to set up shop and for residents to visit the district].”
   
Cressotti commented he was “feeling confident [but] doesn’t feel relieved yet” because the project is just getting underway. He stated that, as with any construction project, contractors can “run into all sorts of unknowns” that can delay and/or complicate the work.

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