April 20, 2020
The City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is moving forward on essential and budgeted projects with staggered workforce shifts and telecommuting capabilities to maintain the needed physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. DPW engineers are working remotely when not at project sites.
Governor Sununu included DPW and key Municipal government workers in the list of Essential Businesses exempted from his Stay-At-Home order issued on March 27, 2020. The DPW also must continue to work on City projects mandated by the EPA, including the Peirce Island Wastewater Treatment Plant and related mitigation initiatives. The Water & Sewer Division also continues work on the new Grafton Road Water Treatment Plant at Pease funded by the US Air Force to counter PFAS contamination at the Pease Air Base.
The DPW is gearing up for the 2020 outdoor construction season that is anticipated to begin the week of April 6, 2020. Several projects are able to proceed with the benefit of reduced impact to residents due to the decrease in traffic resulting from the Stay-At-Home closure of downtown businesses. For example, the DPW has measured a 75 percent reduction in traffic recorded at the Market Street-Nobles Island traffic signal.
DPW Director Peter Rice reports that the following projects that are already funded and in place are moving forward in the next few weeks:
- Maplewood Avenue Area improvements project on Cutts Street, Central Avenue and Leslie Drive
- Islington Street project resumes work April 6, focusing on the section between Bartlett Street and Spinney Road
- Pleasant Street Area improvement project
- Bridge Street sewer line and water main replacement related to the completion of the Hanover Street project
- Annual paving work
The planned pre-construction public information meetings for these projects have been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 emergency. For current information on the projects, visit the project webpages at CityofPortsmouth.com/publicworks and sign up for email project newsletters.
“The DPW staff members are holding up well and adapting to the very changed circumstances, at work and at home, that we are all facing,” said Director Rice. In a memo to the 150-member DPW workforce he wrote, “As we start our third week of staggered shifts, I would like you know how appreciative I am of you, and your continued efforts during these challenging times. I understand that many of you are balancing your home responsibilities along with work. Remember to continue to protect against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”