Roadway resurfacing in Boston
Every year, Public Works resurfaces more than 30 miles of roadway across our neighborhoods. We have have some information below about the work involved.
How we schedule street resurfacing
Engineers routinely assess and grade the condition of the pavement of every block on every street in Boston.
We focus our resurfacing budget on those streets most in need of resurfacing. Before we resurface a street, we work with all the utility companies to make sure they’ve done any necessary repairs and upgrades to their infrastructure first. We don’t want to repave a street just to then have a utility company dig it back up right after.
This coordination is handled through a reservation system called the City of Boston Utility Coordination Software (COBUCS). It works like this:
- First, every utility company completes their necessary work and signs off on the block in the system.
- Then, we schedule a resurfacing for a street in need of work.
We can’t predict emergencies or future building construction. But, this coordination has greatly reduced the number of times a street is dug up in the first five years after a repaving.
When a street is resurfaced
Roadway resurfacing normally takes five to seven days. To minimize disruptions, we typically resurface residential neighborhoods during the day and business districts at night.
- We will remove the top two inches of asphalt — this removes the layer of asphalt that has been cracking. You will notice after this step that the remaining asphalt is lower than the manhole covers. The surface of the road will also feel grooved. The edges of manhole covers will be sprayed in a bright color. We often mark manhole covers with cones or barrels to alert vehicle and bicycle traffic. This step typically takes one or two days.
- The contractor and utility companies will ensure that manhole covers are level with the new asphalt layer. This is often the most time intensive and loudest part of the resurfacing job. The areas beneath the manholes sometimes need to be excavated and rebuilt.
- The new asphalt surface is put on the roadway. This typically takes one day.
- The pavement markings are restored, and sensors for the traffic signals are replaced. This occurs anywhere from 48 hours to two weeks after the new pavement is replaced.
Sidewalk and pedestrian ramp replacement
Our sidewalk construction program consists of upgrades to our pedestrian ramps to make them ADA compliant. When we work on ramps, we always make sure that there is access to homes and businesses.
If you have any concerns, definitely ask the crews on site. They are happy to help!
- We cut and remove the sidewalk where the work is taking place. This normally happens a week ahead of the rest of the work.
- We close the sidewalk and detour pedestrian traffic away from the work area.
- We dig out the old sidewalk, reset the granite curb to the right height, and build wood frames to form the new concrete.
- We place the new concrete. This typically happens in two phases over two days.
- The concrete will stay roped off to harden. The sidewalk can usually be walked on by the end of the day.
- We patch the roadway next to the work and re-open the sidewalk. It takes between three and five days to build new sidewalks and ramps.