Somerville Ave. Utility and Streetscape Improvements Project

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stands at a podium with Mayor Joseph Curtatone to display renderings of the future of Union Square infrastructure

PROJECT UPDATE as of April 2018

The Somerville Ave Utility and Streetscape Improvements project funding was approved on December 15th, 2017. Construction began in April 2018.

Additionally, Eversource Gas crews will be conducting necessary utility repairs in the areas of Sanborn Ct., Somerville Ave. (between Bow St. and Prospect St. adjacent to the Union Sq. Plaza), and in the parking lot at the Union Sq. Plaza. This work began in April 2018 and will continue through June 2018. (View Eversource notice and map)

  • Updates & Alerts

  • Project Background

  • Meetings & Presentations

  • Helpful Links

  • Plans

Updated 4/27/2018

Upcoming Construction Schedule 

Beginning the week of April 30 and continuing over the next several weeks, contractors will begin digging test pits intermittently along Somerville Ave. between Bow St. and Prospect St. Test pits are a common construction practice. Prior to the start of any excavation, construction crews dig small “test pits” to be sure that the underground infrastructure and utilities are in proper order and that the construction plan can proceed accordingly. Typically, test pits are only several feet wide and do not involve significant work or impacts to abutters, however this work will require some lane shifts, closures, and parking restrictions at Bow St., Stone Ave., and the Union Square Plaza, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. No parking signs will be posted along the north side of Somerville Ave., in the vicinity of 59 Somerville Ave. Please review any posted signage when parking in this area as signage and timing may change.

Preconstruction Surveys

Over the next few weeks, contractors will be contacting property owners in specific areas to conduct pre-construction property surveys. The purpose of pre-construction surveys is to document existing property conditions prior to construction. While not required, the surveys provide important documentation should property owners notice damage to their property during or after construction. Without proper documentation of conditions before construction, it may be difficult to demonstrate how or if damage may have been done to a particular property as a result of the project. Impacted properties will be notified directly by the project team. 

Preconstruction surveys of selected buildings may begin the week of May 14 or May 21. These include visual inspection of the exteriors and interiors of buildings by means of video, photographs, a level survey giving elevations of basements and ground floor. 

The City will first provide a general notice describing the project and the need to obtain access to the buildings. The Contractor will then contact individual building owners at least 2 weeks after the City has provided notice.

The Contractor will make contact by phone call to discuss need to inspect and get signed right of entry.  If they do not reach building owner by phone, then the Contractor typically sends a letter by certified mailed. 

All inspections will be performed in the presence of the Engineer and property owner or their designee.  

Tree Removal Hearings

There are 37 trees scheduled for removal as defined in the project plans. The City of Somerville held two public tree hearings in Spring 2018 to discuss these removals: March 28 and May 2. You can view the presentation slides by clicking here.


If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the project staff:

  • City of Somerville Project Manager, Jess Fosbrook: 617-625-6600 ext. 5124, [email protected]
  • City of Somerville Deputy Director of Communications, Jackie Rossetti: 617-625-6600 ext. 2614, [email protected]
  • City of Somerville Economic Development Assistant, Nick Schonberger: [email protected], 617-625-6600 ext. 2537
  • The City of Somerville’s Constituent Service Center: 311 (617-666-3311), [email protected].


Thank you!

Improvements Above and Below Ground

The Somerville Ave. Utility and Streetscape Improvements project will begin in approximately April 2018, and will include the section of Somerville Ave. between Bow St/Washington St. (the heart of Union Square) and Medford St. (just past the Target). Note: this project is separate from the recent traffic improvements on Prospect St. and Webster Ave., and builds upon the Somerville Ave. Reconstruction project that was completed in 2010.)

This project will address legacy stormwater flooding issues in Union Square, and includes significant streetscape improvements. The entire project is anticipated to take approximately 3.5 years to complete.*

There are two major categories of work of the project: Upgrades to the underground stormwater management system and other aspects of the water and sewer systems, and enhancements to the overall streetscape.

  • Underground, the stormwater upgrades will increase capacity and reduce flooding with the installation of a 14-foot wide by 6-foot tall box culvert (a rectangular concrete structure) under Somerville Ave. from Union Square to Medford St. The 800,000 gallon box culvert will remove storm flows from the 100-year old, 72-inch brick combined sewer underneath Somerville Ave., eventually allowing this pipe to serve as a dedicated sanitary line. Water main replacements and sewer pipe lining rehabilitation will provide reliable service for many years to come.
  • Above ground, streetscape improvements will include enhanced pedestrian, transit rider, cyclist, and traffic facilities; and green stormwater infrastructure.
  • The enhanced facilities will reduce intersection crossing distances and improve sight lines between pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists. 6.5-foot wide bike lanes along either side of the street will be fully separated from the road by a raised curb and offset by a few feet.
  • Green stormwater infrastructure will be used to collect and filter runoff from 25% of the project area. This will be accomplished by new planted areas, stormwater infrastructure that will support large tree growth, and permeable surfaces on the bike paths and in some buffer areas. New permeable areas will lead to a reduction of 0.7 acres of impervious hard surface.

There will also be utility work by Eversource in the Union Square plaza, in the heart of Union Square near the intersection of Bow St. and Somerville Ave., and on Prospect St. The utility work is anticipated to start in March 2018. Plans showing the approximate location of this work can be found in the Plans section of the website, below.

* Project timeline may be impacted by unforeseen challenges such as inclement / severe weather, conditions of underground infrastructure, and emergencies.

More Information

For more information, please contact Jessica Fosbrook at (617) 625-6600 ext. 5124, or by e-mail at [email protected].  

May 2, 2018 Tree Removal Hearing

March 28, 2018 Tree Removal Hearing

March 14, 2018 Meeting

May 18, 2017 Meeting