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Walsh Suggests Boston's Construction Restrictions May Ease Further In The Near Future

A pedestrian, at lower left, walks a dog past a construction site sitting idle after projects in the city were shut down due to the coronavirus in Boston. (David Goldman/AP)
A pedestrian, at lower left, walks a dog past a construction site sitting idle after projects in the city were shut down due to the coronavirus in Boston. (David Goldman/AP)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told an industry group Friday that the city's construction restrictions may be loosened further in the near future, saying he is concerned that projects are falling behind schedule.

After weeks of a near-total ban meant to blunt the spread of the coronavirus, Boston this week began phasing in developments that the state considers essential. On a video call with Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts, Walsh said he planned to speak with Gov. Charlie Baker and suggested the governor may expand the definition of essential.

"I think that he'll have to make an amendment to his non-essential/essential construction list," Walsh said. "Hopefully, by next week, that will be made."

Baker, however, was noncommital during a press briefing several hours after Walsh's remarks.

"There's been a lot of back and forth between us and the city — and us and other communities — around construction, generally," Baker said. "I think they also came and met with the [state's reopening] advisory board. This is one of those issues that's pretty top of mind and will certainly be dealt with when they issue their report."

Boston's chief of operations, Patrick Brophy, advised developers in a letter this week that "at no time will the city of Boston permit any construction beyond what is allowed by the commonwealth of Massachusetts as an essential construction project."

Thus, Boston's construction restrictions are tied to what the state deems essential.

Walsh said he's worried about construction delays, including on a public school the city hoped to open in the fall of 2021.

"Now, we have to prepare for a mid-year move-in" at Boston Arts Academy, he said.

To help make up for lost time, "a lot of jobs are going to go to six days a week in Boston," Walsh added. "We're going to be allowing six-day shifts."

The mayor also warned developers not to penalize workers who aren't comfortable returning to job sites.

Related:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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