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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

240 Elm Street Closure Update

Due to public safety concerns over a structurally compromised front exterior of the building at 240 Elm St. in Davis Square, Elm Street between Dover Street and Russell Street will be closed to all cars and there will be no access for pedestrians between Chester Street and Grove Street until further notice.

In the course of work to repair the parapet wall and façade of the building, a structural engineer from the firm Roome & Guarracino LLC, hired by the building’s owner, determined that “along [the Elm Street] wall, between the steel beam bearing piers, the masonry has been taken down below the roof framing level and no longer engages the wall with the roof diaphragm.” This unstable wall condition creates the risk that the front exterior wall could collapse onto the street and sidewalk below, the engineer concluded. The engineer also advised the building owner that masonry was being removed from the building’s façade on the Elm Street side of the building without shoring installed, and that the sidewalk should be closed during the installation of required shoring.

Upon being informed of these unsafe conditions, City inspectors ordered the closure of businesses within the structure and immediate vicinity, worked with Somerville Police and Fire to establish precautionary sidewalk and lane closures on Elm Street, and reviewed the site. Based on the engineer’s findings and subsequent review, the City closed all street lanes, the opposite sidewalk and nearby businesses to ensure public safety. These closures will remain in effect until the structure and area is deemed safe. Business owners and the public will be kept informed in real time on the situation. To review the advisory from Roome & Guarrancino LLC, please see below.

During the street closure, the following temporary detours and traffic pattern changes will be in place, however if at all possible, please seek alternate routes, particularly during morning and evening rush hour commutes:

· Highland Avenue between College Avenue and Grove Street will be temporarily converted to accommodate two-way traffic.

· Vehicles traveling east on Holland Street may take a right onto Dover Street, or continue onto Highland Avenue.

· Vehicles traveling west on Highland Avenue may continue onto Holland Street, or right onto College Avenue. Cars will not be permitted to turn left onto Dover Street.

· Vehicles traveling into Davis Square on College Avenue may only right onto Holland Street. Cars will not be permitted to travel straight onto Dover Street nor take a left turn onto Highland Avenue.

Somerville Police will be stationed in this area to assist with detours, and message boards will be placed in Teele Square and at the Powder House Rotary.

MBTA buses that normally stop at Elm Street and Chester Street—Routes 87, 88, 89, 90, 94, and 96—will stop in front of the Citizens Bank building at 212 Elm St. For more information please check the MBTA’s Service Alerts page at

Text of letter from Jason Ferris, Structural Engineer for Roome & Guarracino LLC


Jason Cohen, Jim Logue and myself just met on site to review the shoring on the Chester St side of the building. We find the shoring methodology acceptable, except for three missing towers on the first floor level where there are towers directly above and directly below. It is essential that the tower legs transfer load directly through to towers below all the way down to the basement. Jim Logue is aware of these locations. I also pointed out to him where we’d like two additional post shores in the basement. Once these are adequately installed, we will come out for another inspection and sign off prior to further demolition proceeding.

We also observed that masonry is being removed on the Elm St side of the building where no shoring has been installed. Also, the sidewalk directly below and Dunkin Donuts remains open to the public. We did not authorize for masonry removal to proceed on this side of the building prior to shoring and feel that it currently presents a dangerous condition. Along this wall, between the steel beam bearing piers, the masonry has been taken down below the roof framing level and no longer engages the wall with the roof diaphragm. Not only does this result in an unstable wall condition, it also results in weakening the stabilization of the piers supporting the steel girders. These piers had already been deemed precarious as were and we did not want to exacerbate their condition prior to the roof and floor framing being shored. In addition, debris is falling while the demolition is in progress. I understand there is another level of staging platform below, but is this considered an overhead protection system that is completely sealed off while open to the public below? We urge that no further demolition of this wall commence until its shoring is completed and signed off on and the sidewalk and Dunkin Donuts is closed to public traffic.

Jason Ferriss, PE
Structural Engineer

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