Sidewalk expansion delayed indefinitely

The+ongoing+construction+on+Boylston+St.%2C+intended+to+expand+the+sidewalk+into+the+parking+lane+and+add+benches+and+planters%2C+has+been+delayed+until+at+least+the+end+of+the+2020-21+academic+year.

Media: Madison Goldberg

The ongoing construction on Boylston St., intended to expand the sidewalk into the parking lane and add benches and planters, has been delayed until at least the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

The college’s sidewalk expansion project on Boylston St. is indefinitely delayed, according to a college official. 

The sidewalk on the campus side of Boylston St. will be reopened and free of construction when students return to campus in the fall, but it will look much like it did before the project began, Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services Duncan Pollock told The Beacon. 

The college had planned to expand the sidewalk into the parking lane between the Little Building and Boylston Place and add benches and planters by the time students returned to campus in the fall. So far, they’ve demolished and repaved several sections that needed to be repaired, but have not yet increased the sidewalk size or added any new features. 

“By mid-August, it’s supposed to have a similar look to what it had way back in the beginning, so the sidewalk is going to be the same width as it originally was and people are going to be able to pass freely along that sidewalk,” Pollock said in a phone interview. “But it’s not going to have any of the new benches or any of that in place and it’s not going to be expanded out to that other lane that was going to be taken.”

The project was shut down in March when Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh stopped all non-emergency construction. 

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Pollock said construction on the project will not resume until at least the end of the 2020-21 school year despite Mayor Walsh giving the go-ahead for construction to resume in late May.

“We knew that we couldn’t finish the sidewalk project in time and due to that and due to social distancing and so forth, we wanted to get the sidewalk back into the state that would allow for students and other folks to be able to travel safely across Boylston street,” Pollock said. 

The college had also planned several “city-dependent” aspects of the project like a re-painted Boylston/Tremont crosswalk and a mid-block crossing that would have allowed safe passage for pedestrians between Boylston Place and Boston Common that have been delayed as well. 

The delay follows a recent announcement of $26 million in mitigation efforts intended to help offset the massive financial losses administrators predict in the fall. The efforts will include “a 10% reduction in each operating budget area managed by the Vice Presidents…including equipment and expenses related to upgrades or improvements to our facilities.”

The expansion project saw previous interruptions in December due to what Pollock labeled “emergency repairs.” At the time, the project was still slated to finish on schedule.

The college predicted spending over a million dollars on the expansion, but it is unclear exactly what sum has been spent to date.