Massachusetts Street once again is a fully functioning, two-way street as construction crews working on a downtown waterline project removed barricades and fencing Friday morning - more than two weeks ahead of schedule.
"At first I didn't notice it," Terri Faunce, owner of The Casbah, 803 Mass., said about arriving at work Friday morning. "But then it hit me: There are no fences. It was great."
The waterline project had reduced the 700 and 800 blocks of Massachusetts Street to one-way traffic for most of the summer, and had limited parking to just one side of the street.
Crews reopened the 700 block of Massachusetts last week, but city leaders had been planning on the 800 block to perhaps be closed until Sept. 11. Dry weather and a hardworking construction company accelerated the $1.5 million project, said Chris Stewart, the city's interim director of utilities.
The project involved putting up fences along the sidewalks that merchants said had a slowing effect on sales, even though the sidewalks remained open.
"Our sales were down by about 12 percent, but I heard some businesses were worse," Faunce said.
The city provided the construction company, Nowak Construction, incentive to get the project done early. The company's contract includes a $1,000 payment for each day the project is completed early. That clause hasn't kicked in because crews still are completing some work along the sidewalks.
The waterline project - which is replacing century-old water mains - will continue next summer in the 900 block of Massachusetts Street. It also will include a repaving of Massachusetts Street.