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Latest Phase of Boston Common Renovation Expected to be Complete in October

A springtime delay stopped the project for nine weeks.

After an unexpected nine-week delay this spring, the Boston Common renovation project is moving forward with the latest phase, which is expected to complete by mid-fall.

"We hope to be out there for a tiny pilot season this fall," Elizabeth Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden, told Patch today. The Friends are financing and executing the project on land owned by the city's Parks Department. The total cost is $3.5 million, Vizza said.

The delay happened after the MBTA asked the Friends to stop work because of concerns about construction over the shallow green line tunnel, Vizza said. Although engineers hired by the Friends had investigated the issue before work began, it took a while to get all the permission from the MBTA, she said. 

"Basically when something stops and there's a large bureaucracy, everything stops and it takes a while to get everything through the system," Vizza said.

The Friends are in the process of posting three signs on the Common that will explain detour routes around 2.5-acre construction site and let people know of the expected completion date.

The first phase of the project – the $640,000 restoration of the Brewer Fountain – was completed in May 2010. The current phase, which includes the installation of about 30 tables – some with umbrellas – a reading room, a gourmet food truck and live piano music during lunch, should be up and running by the beginning of October, she said.

As part of the project, the Friends are also renovating the landscape and hardscape on this portion of the Common. This week construction crews began pulverizing old sidewalks. They will also install a new storm draining system as well as irrigation for turf and trees. 

Some of the construction, however, is not related to the renovation. The MBTA is installing a head house, which will house a new elevator for increased handicapped accessibility, at Park Street Station. That project is expected to be finished in fall 2012, according to Vizza.

After the T completes this project, the Friends will work on the final phase of the Common restoration, which will include new fencing and a green strip to separate the park from Tremont Street.

"Now the park at street bleed into each other," Vizza said. It wasn't always this way. An original fence was taken down around the turn of the 20th century as the subway was being built.

This final phase should be complete in spring 2013, she said.

For more information, check out the Friends of the Public Garden's blog here.

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