City says First Street work is on schedule


At 7:30am workers and machinery begin to gather in the middle of First Street, and by 8am the saw is tearing into the pavement and a detour is set up, diverting rush-hour traffic.

This is the new normal for the second phase of the First Street Improvement Project, and will continue for about two months. The team of construction workers from Monterey Peninsula Engineering have been busy laying the 8,000 feet of new water lines in the ground while the city has been working on public outreach.

Despite minor setbacks, city officials say the second phase is on schedule to be completed by summer 2019. Following the completion of the second phase, Caltrans will repave all of First Street, from Santa Teresa to US-101.

Anthony Fanucchi, construction inspector with 4LEAF, Inc., said his crew has laid about 3,000 feet of pipe so far. As the work continues, Fanucchi has been working with businesses along First Street to ensure the construction doesn’t negatively impact them.

“Whatever you need, we’ll make it happen for you,” Fanucchi told business owners.

Lately, he has been coordinating with Saint Mary’s cemetery to ensure there’s access to burial services. As the construction approached the intersection at Wren Avenue, another alert was sent out by community engagement coordinator Rachelle Bladell.

Bladell has been sending out updates on the project via email, Nextdoor postings, social media and the city’s website. The construction team and city officials meet weekly to assess where the project is headed and discuss any complications.

Fanucchi said the team did run into an unmarked water line as workers dug to place the new 24-inch pipe. The project is replacing a 100-year-old water pipeline that connects to the city’s homes and businesses. The new line will be connected to the existing lines after the entire pipe is laid and pressure tested.

This part of the process is when residents will encounter some interruption in water service.

The next phase water shutoffs should occur in February and March 2019. The city is working to be able to conduct this more disruptive work at night, in an effort to mitigate the effects any shutoffs may have on businesses. This plan hinges on agreement from Caltrans, because the street is designated as an arterial and is therefore under Caltrans jurisdiction.