Blasting For WHS Project Starting This Month

Published by Chris Wangler- January 6, 2021.

Waltham High School officials will host an online meeting Thursday to explain what project abutters should expect when a large-scale blasting operation gets underway this month at 554 Lexington Street.
A Community Forum on Blasting Expectations will be held remotely on Thursday, January 7 at 7:00 p.m. [see online meeting link below].
Questions can be asked during the presentation through the chat feature.
Blasting has emerged as a worry for homeowners, along with noise, deforestation, groundwater runoff and additional traffic.
During 2020, in spite of COVID, the $374 million Waltham High School project blazed ahead toward a projected completion date of fall 2024.
All the buildings were demolished in recent months, but preparing the site for construction is one of the biggest challenges.
With their steep grades, 554 Lexington Street and neighboring Jericho Hill are not flat enough to construct a 415,000 square foot school building and a 490-space parking garage with a multi-purpose field on top.
Blasting for the new WHS would create a sheer rock wall similar to one along the access road that connects 1265 Main to office buildings along 128 (photo). The 1265 Main wall is roughly 30-40 feet tall at its highest, while the WHS wall is projected to stand higher than 100 feet at its highest point, according to WHS project documents. 2016 photo
The property is also covered in ledge. To level parts of the site, almost 750,000 cubic yards of “significant bedrock blasting” is estimated.
The blasting operation is expected to take roughly nine months, and will require thousands of truck trips along Lexington Street to remove rubble.
The blasting will happen in close proximity to residences along Glen Circle and Lincoln Terrace south of the property.
Those homeowners have complained about noise, possible damage to their walls and foundations and the potential for blasting to exacerbate existing stormwater runoff issues.
During community meetings, Waltham High School project officials have not sugarcoated the scale of the blasting operation and they have taken steps to address concerns.
The state fire safety code requires that free pre-blast surveys be conducted for properties within 250 feet of the project blast zone.
WHS project rendering created by architecture firm SMMA for the City of Waltham.
The city enlarged that radius to 500 feet, allowing dozens of abutters to take advantage of the free inspections in recent months.
Those visual reports could be used as evidence for insurance claims in the event of damage.
Abutters beyond the 500-foot radius will have no recourse if they fail to pay for their own inspections prior to the start of blasting, which is expected to start sometime in January.
Project officials also promised to purchase additional insurance.
The blasting subcontractor is Maine Drilling & Blasting, an industry giant that has worked in Waltham before, most prominently during blasting for 1265 Main.
Before Maine Drilling & Blasting was selected as the blasting subcontractor in late 2020, a company representative walked 554 Lexington Street back in April 2020.
That large-scale blasting operation, to level part of the former Polaroid site, proved unpopular with homeowners.
During a packed community forum at Government Center in 2013, abutters complained loudly about noise and alleged damage to their homes.
At the time, a Maine Drilling & Blasting rep explained that all the blasting was within legal limits.
Community Forum on WHS Project Blasting Expectations
January 7, 2021 at 7:00 PM
Meeting Link