Andover and Lawrence have begun repaving roads affected by last year's Columbia Gas disaster, while North Andover will be starting by early next month.
In Lawrence, repaving started last week, with some roads milled and repaved while others were just milled — that is, the old layer of pavement was removed.
On Monday, paving vehicles were seen on Pilgrim Road in the Colonial Heights neighborhood, where they were putting down fresh, black pavement and compacting it with a steamroller.
In Andover, paving was underway on School Street, where the road was being milled Monday afternoon.
City and town officials said that last week's announcement by the Department of Public Utilities and Columbia Gas that some of the old gas pipes may need to be re-checked, and possibly dug up again and recapped, won't affect the majority of the work going on now.
The paving is being paid for by Columbia Gas. Lawrence received about $31 million for repaving, while Andover got about $14 million and North Andover about $12 million.
Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said the only street that may have uncapped gas lines is Balmoral Street.
"We are planning accordingly" about when to pave that street, he said.
Flanagan said he is happy the paving is finally getting underway after months of uneven surfaces due to gas lines being dug up throughout town.
"We are pleased to be able to begin the road restoration work this fall," he said, adding that the town hopes to pave 3.5 miles before it gets too cold.
He said it's taken so long to start because the town first needed to get approval on how to spend the Columbia Gas money from Town Meeting. Then, he said, the town had to go through the public procurement process before signing a contract for the work.
"We will be prepared to resume work on the first day of paving season next spring," he added.
In Lawrence, meanwhile, Mayor Daniel Rivera announced Monday that Phase 1 of the multi-year paving project began last week and would continue through the end of 2019.
"We’re happy to begin removing some of the final scars of the Columbia Gas disaster," he said. "Thanks to (engineering consultant) Environmental Partners and the staff of the DPW, Phase 1 should be done before the end of this road construction season.”
“This work and future work will not cost taxpayers a dime," he added. "All of the streets impacted are covered by the money in the settlement with Columbia Gas. All of the road restoration work is being executed in cadence with much needed water and sewer work with a goal of minimizing resident inconvenience and business disruption.”
The city has distributed equally the street and sidewalk work across the impacted areas of South Lawrence so that every neighborhood has some work happening over the next four years. Areas targeted for the last phase will have significant water and sewer work happening during phase 1 and phase 2.
Rivera said the problem of pipes that weren't capped has been solved for this winter's paving. He said two houses in Colonial Heights had pipes that weren't capped properly and they've been fixed by Columbia Gas.
"We put their feet to the fire. It would have held up the whole project," he said.
In the ensuing phases, Columbia Gas should have time to check the remaining houses and fix them.
"If there are problems, they will have fixed them before next year's construction," he said.
Jim Stanford, director of public works for North Andover, said the town is out to bid on the paving contracts for the areas affected by the Columbia Gas explosions and fires, with paving set to begin in early October.
"We hope to have a contractor on board in the next two weeks," he said. "We have a bunch of prep work — a lot of sidewalk work to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant."
He said the first phase of the multi-year project will be in a small area south of Route 125, including Bunker Hill, Lexington, Camden, Concord and Osgood streets.
That work will be combined with other road work the town had already planned and paid for using taxpayer dollars.
North of Route 125, meanwhile, other projects will be underway this fall, including the complete replacement and renovation of Grogans Field, which was heavily damaged by temporary housing trailers that were parked there for people displaced from their homes during the gas crisis.
"We are completely replacing the surface, all new infield, regrading the outfield, new grass, new fences — all part of the settlement from Columbia Gas," he said. The field has been out of commission since last fall, leaving baseball and football leagues scrambling for space to practice and play.
Stanford went on to say that in the winter, public meetings will be held to inform residents and solicit input from them on the ongoing work.
Part of the work will included digging up and replacing many old sidewalks and curbs and planting new trees, in addition to repaving the roads.
Stanford said one road appears to have problems with uncapped lines — Davis Street — but that road isn't due to be repaved until next spring.
PAVING AT A GLANCE
Lawrence roads to be paved in first phase this fall:
* Corbett Road,
* Stevens Avenue,
* Montrose Avenue,
* Crestshire Drive,
* Pilgrim Road,
* Proctor Road,
* Chickering Street,
* Durso Avenue,
* Colonial Road,
* Cabot Road,
* Standish Road,
* Colonial Drive,
* Marlboro Street,
* Cathedral Street,
* Springfield Street,
* Amherst Street,
* Fowler Street,
* Gilbert Street,
* Sylvester Street, Zanni Avenue
* and Crestshire Drive.
Andover streets to be paved in first phase this fall:
* Argyle Street,
* Arundel Street,
* Balmoral Street,
* Burnham Road,
* Carisbrook Street,
* Cassimere Street,
* Dufton Road,
* School Street,
* Stirling Street,
* and York Street.
* Bunker Hill,
* and Osgood streets.