Two days after Boston announced on March 16 it would halt construction for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, its neighbor across the Charles River decided to follow suit. Cambridge, Mass. has enacted an indefinite ban, set to begin on March 21. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he had “no plans” to stop construction statewide.
“The decision to pause construction in the city is being made out of an abundance of caution," City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said in a statement. "Our first priority is protecting the hard-working men and women who work in the construction industry in Cambridge.” He said he will convene "an advisory group comprised of business and developer leaders, contractors, public health officials, city staff and trade union officials to advise me on factors to consider in determining when the moratorium will be lifted.”
The order says work must cease by close of business on March 21 and job sites should be "safe and secure" by March 26. The order also states that exceptions to the moratorium will only be granted with "the explicit permission" of the city's commissioner of inspectional services for building-related work or the commissioner of public works for street-utility related work "provided that such activity is essential or in response to an emergency."
Cambridge, home to Harvard University and MIT, is a hotbed for tech and biotech-related developments, including Google’s new Kendall Square headquarters. The 16-story, 417,000-sq-ft project is scheduled to be completed in 2022. The Boeing Co. is also building a 100,000-sq-ft aerospace and autonomy center in Kendall Square set to open this year.
ENR New England's 2020 list of top construction project starts, which highlights the largest projects that began substantial construction last year, includes two Cambridge projects. The Volpe Center Transportation Center, a $200-million MIT project. is set to open in 2022.
“This temporary moratorium on construction aims to keep our construction workers and those in the industry safe from the current COVID-19 outbreak,” Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui said.