The portion of Southern Artery between South Street and Quincy Avenue will be reconstructed beginning the week of Oct. 31.
Crews will first overhaul the stretch of road beginning mid-week, depending on the weather. The full re-pavement will follow shortly after. The entire project is scheduled to be completed within two weeks.
The project will be conducted at night to facilitate faster work and to limit day-time traffic disruptions. There will be lane restrictions on Southern Artery during the work, but no detours are anticipated. Work will take place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
By SCOTT JACKSON
Drinking fountains at three of Quincy’s public schools have been shut off and will be repaired or replaced after lead concentrations in water samples collected earlier this fall exceeded state limits.
School Superintendent Dr. Richard DeCristofaro on Tuesday said two fountains at the Bernazzani School, one at the Parker School and one Atlantic Middle School had lead levels exceeding Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection limits. Those fountains, he stated, have been shut off and would be replaced or repaired.
The fountains at Atlantic and Bernazzani were not functional prior to being shut off, officials said, with water flowing only as a drip.
Along with the four water fountains, hand-washing sinks at eight schools had lead or copper concentrations in exceeding DEP limits – eight at Beechwood Knoll, 11 at Bernazzani, five at Montclair, one at Parker, seven at Wollaston, three at Atlantic, two at Broad Meadows and five at Sterling.
Those sinks have all been clearly labeled “for hand washing only.” Neither lead nor copper is absorbed into the skin, so there is no health concern caused by hand washing.
None of the sinks or fountains at the Della Chiesa Early Childhood Center or Atherton Hough had concentrations exceeding DEP limits.
Results of the tests on water samples collected at the city’s remaining public schools – Lincoln-Hancock, Clifford Marshall, Merrymount, Snug Harbor, Squantum, Central, Point Webster, both high schools and the GOALS building – were not available Tuesday. The superintendent said testing of those water samples could be completed within the next several weeks and would results would be released when available.
DeCristofaro in August announced every fountain and sink in the city’s schools would be tested for lead and copper as part of a $2 million state initiative. The samples were collected over several weeks in September and October.
DEP regulations only require communities to test for lead at two school buildings annually, and at two locations in those schools.
While Quincy’s water supply does not contain lead, the heavy metal can be found in some buildings because of its use in pipes and solder. The use of lead in plumbing materials was banned in 1986.
Officials anticipated that based on the sample size of the city’s program and the age of some buildings that some fixtures would return levels requiring action. That was the goal, said both DeCristofaro and Mayor Thomas Koch.
“The direction from Mayor Koch was to go beyond the testing requirements of the DEP, find all potential issues no matter how small, be transparent, and work toward a water system that is entirely lead-free – not one that just meets testing mandates,” the superintendent said.
The DEP considers water with lead concentrations in excess of 15 parts per billion unsafe. Water with copper concentrations in excess of 1.3 parts per million is likewise considered unsafe.
Suzanne Condon, a retired associate commissioner and director of environmental health for the state Department of Public Health, is assisting the city with the sampling program. She said the goal of health officials is always to eliminate any source of lead exposure to children, but noted the action levels are set very low purposely to provide a framework for response not to indicate any immediate threat. Drinking water action levels are based on chronic, long-term exposure.
The most serious exposure route and health concern is children under the age of 6 being exposed to lead paint in their homes, Condon said.
The testing program at the 20 school buildings is part of a wider effort by the city to reduce and eliminate even minimal levels of lead through in the Quincy water system.
In addition to the expanded school testing program, Koch directed the Quincy Water and Sewer Department to more broadly identify residences in the city that may still have lead water service lines – the privately owned pipe that runs from the city system to faucets at homes.
The City Council on Oct. 3 approved Koch’s request to spend up to $1.5 million – financed through an interest free loan from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority – to replace the remaining lead service lines in the city next year. Officials believe 141 lead service lines are still in use.
“We’ve made great progress over the years limiting exposure to lead for young people in our city, but the goal is to be 100 percent lead-free in our water system,” Koch said. “That means taking some additional steps, identifying issues, encouraging discussion, and taking action where appropriate.”
By SCOTT JACKSON
Quincy police continue to investigate the crash of a school bus on Tuesday that sent five elementary students and the bus driver to local hospitals with minor injuries.
The bus, carrying students, crashed on Quarry Street near the intersection of Kidder Street around 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, an early release day for the city’s elementary schools. On board the bus were 32 students from the Charles A. Bernazzani School, according to Quincy police.
Five of those students were taken to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, and the bus’s driver was taken to Quincy Medical Center. All parties were treated for minor injuries and released, police said.
The remaining students on the bus were taken to the Sons of Italy on Quarry Street, where parents were able to pick them up.
Police said the bus was traveling southbound on Quarry Street when it left the roadway and struck a fire hydrant, telephone pole, fence, stone wall, a Nissan Pathfinder attempting to exit Fallon Court, before hitting the house at 62 Quarry St.
The driver of the Pathfinder was not injured, police said Wednesday morning.
The house was damaged but the city’s building inspector determined it to be structurally sound, according to police.
A portion of Quarry Street was closed to traffic until 9 p.m. Tuesday.
The Massachusetts State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section assisted the Quincy police and examined the bus. The crash remained under investigation by the Quincy Police Crash Reconstruction Team as of Wednesday morning.
Dr. Richard DeCristofaro, superintendent of the city’s school system, said in a letter to parents Bernazzani’s principal, Peter Dionne, or its assistant principal, Phil Diana, would ride on the school bus each morning and afternoon until students are once again comfortable with taking the bus. Additional counselors were provided at the school Wednesday to meet with students and families.
“We are grateful for the immediate, professional response of the Quincy Police and Fire Departments, Brewster Ambulance and Director of Transportation Michael Draicchio and his staff,” DeCristofaro said.
“A special thank you to the Sons of Italy for opening their doors for the children who were on the bus to wait there to be reunited with their parents.”
By SCOTT JACKSON
Early voting for this year’s election began Monday in the lower level of the James R. McIntyre Government Center, and will continue through Nov. 4.
All registered voters are able to cast ballots before Election Day, which this year is Tuesday, Nov. 8. City Clerk Nicole Crispo anticipates up to 5,000 Quincy residents voting early over the next two weeks.
“I would love to see 5,000 people utilize early voting, [but] it’s hard to say because it’s new,” she said.
As of noon Monday, 168 voters had cast ballots in the election so far.
“We’ve had a great, great outcome so far,” Crispo said. “If we keep going at this pace we’re going to exceed expectations.”
Early voting in Quincy was originally set for the atrium of the McIntyre Government Center, but was moved to the lower level, which is accessible from the atrium by both an elevator and stair case. The lower level provides more space and better flow than atrium, Crispo said.
“It’s going wonderful. There is plenty of room down there, the setup is great and there is plenty of parking,” in the lot behind the Munroe Building, Crispo said. “It’s going smashingly well.”
Early voting can be done in person or by mail. In Quincy, early voting can be done in person at the McIntyre Government Center (Old City Hall), 1305 Hancock St., lower level during the following days and times through Nov. 4.
• Mondays and Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For public convenience, Quincy has also decided to offer weekend hours on Saturday, Oct. 29, at North Quincy High School from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also, registered voters have the option to request an early voting ballot through the mail. Simply fill out an application and mail it to Quincy City Hall, Election Department, 1305 Hancock St. Applications are available on the secretary of the commonwealth’s website: sec.state.ma.us/ele.
“Please note, however, once a voter has cast an early voting ballot, the voter may no longer vote at the polls on Election Day,” Crispo said.
“For the first time in Massachusetts, the first choice all voters will make is which day to vote. Early voting will make the most fundamental right of our citizens more convenient than ever to exercise. We encourage all of our citizens to exercise that right and take advantage of the opportunity to vote on their schedules.”
Prior to the enactment of this new law, the only way a registered voter was allowed to vote prior to Election Day was by casting an absentee ballot. Although absentee voting will still be available for registered voters who qualify, only those who will be absent from their city or town on Election Day or have a disability or religious belief that prevents them from going to the polls that day are legally allowed to vote by absentee ballot,
Unlike absentee balloting, early voting is for every registered voter, Crispo said. Registered voters do not need an excuse or reason to vote early.
Regardless of whether a voter wants to take advantage of early voting, vote absentee or vote on Election Day, the first step is making sure you are registered. To check to see if you are registered to vote, you may visit the secretary of the commonwealth’s website: sec.state.ma.us/ele.