City Engineer Para M. Jayasinghe of the Boston Public Works Department made a presentation about the Sullivan Square Underpass project at the Jan. 18 Charlestown Neighborhood Council’s Basic Committee meeting. Repairs to the underpass began on Jan. 2, 2024 and are expected to be completed by May 31, 2024.
CNC Basic Services Chair Philip Carr introduced Jayasinghe, who told the committee and the Charlestown residents in the audience that he has 25 years of experience in the Engineering Division and has enjoyed his previous visits to the CNC meetings.
Jayasinghe delivered a thorough 20-minute presentation on all aspects of the Sullivan Square Underpass Project. Using an effective slide presentation in coordination with Project Manager Joseph Fleury and Department Assistant Rachel Pierce, Jayasinghe noted the highlights of the project which include: the repair of the underpass wall and ceilings, the milling, paving, and striping of the roadway limits, the replacement of the median guardrail with a concrete barrier, the repair and cleaning of the drainage system, and replacing the lighting system.
“We have a presentation for you to basically let you know why the underpass is closed,” began Jayasinghe, noting that the goal was to not have the underpass project conflict with the Sumner Tunnel repair project that will resume this summer.
“I will tell you why this system needs so much help. The water table is really high. The draining system doesn’t work the best way. The roadway needs attention. Water, salt, concrete, and steel – they just don’t get along, and we are desperately trying to make sure that the underpass [is repaired].”
Lack of Notification Draws Ire of Residents
Following the presentation, Carr opened the floor to questions for Jayasinghe. The overriding consensus was that the CNC Committee members and Charlestown residents in attendance were grateful to Jayasinghe for the extensive update and pleased that the long-neglected Sullivan Square Underpass would be getting its much-needed repairs.
However, CNC members and residents asked Jayasinghe why the Charlestown neighborhood wasn’t notified of the project in advance and there were no public meetings with residents and local business owners.
Cunha expressed his dismay with the lack of notification about the project.
“The problem is they didn’t work out any kind of mitigation – we really didn’t get any kind of notice about the project other than an electric sign,” said Cunha. “Our committee members and residents clearly made that point. We just didn’t get any public notice, and we really would have liked to have had a public meeting where people can ask questions about the traffic and other issues.”
Jayasinghe said he would take the comments back to his team, and using a baseball analogy, tell his colleagues that “we really didn’t the ball out of the ballpark with this one.”
Nonetheless, Cunha is happy that the underpass is finally getting attention from the City of Boston. “This project needs to be done. I don’t think anybody in the community is saying that it doesn’t need to be done. It’s just that we would have liked a little notice that it was going to happen, and we could work out some traffic patterns.”
Cunha thanked the Boston Police officers for attending the meeting. Police Capt. Sean Martin told the audience that there will be police details in the area to help motorists and residents navigate the area and provide safe passage during the construction project.