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And. Here. We. Go…

If you’ve been anywhere near downtown New Bedford during the past few weeks, you know that the apocalypse is upon Union Street.

Not really – I’m being facetious and echoing some of the comments I’ve seen on social media. Because as we all know, right after violent race riots nothing gets some Americans more worked up than something screwing with their ability to drive and park their cars basically anywhere they like.

The ground is being prepared – or rather, the underground – along Union Street for the streetscape improvements that form the backbone of the Purchase-Union Innovation District project. Helping to facilitate that endeavor is James McKeag, the Mass Development TDI Fellow who works from right here out of Groundwork!

We sometimes tease the affable McKeag – whom I call the Jimmy Stewart of urban planning – that all hell will break loose when ‘he’ starts tearing up Union Street. Maybe that’s why he wisely decided to schedule is summer camping vacation this week as the heavy equipment really got down to business.

It’s probably never a good time to tear up a major thoroughfare and doubly so during a busy summer season. Unfortunately, pipes and drains and maybe culverts and all sorts of other good things under the pavement need to be replaced to ensure years of future infrastructure prosperity. Still, this can be hard on businesses on the street.

So, it’s important to remember that this is #notthebigdig – and while you may have to navigate some traffic detours, the sidewalks are still open. And let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t have been parking on Union Street anyway.

Part of the charm of a vibrant downtown is its walkability. So don’t be detoured by a few bulldozers. In fact, Destination Soups owner Devin Byrnes has just the right attitude to help see you through the construction.

He posted the following to Facebook: Looking for a free ‘Touch a truck day’? Have a thing for burly work men? Want to support local business? Well, c’mon down. Don’t be alarmed, scarred up Union street may look like an an out take from the latest ‘Transformers’ movie, but the shop is open (as are the sidewalks). For the past week, the street has been opened up more than the eyes of the enlightened, come gawk for yourselves!”

Destination Soups is located at 149 Union Street right beside the entrance to Wings Court. You can watch the carnage from inside the shop or at some sweet outdoor tables in the Court. Today’s special is a bowl of Tomato Basil Soup with a side serving of organically-grown burly workmen. If burly isn’t your thing, here’s a picture of New Bedford’s answer to an American idol star, front end dude Danny Sallom.

The whole point is that, yes, Union Street is going through some growing pains. But because of that, now is the time to show the groovy local businesses and eateries it’s home to more, not less, love.

And, you get touch a truck.

Steven Froias