Seawall repair to go out for bids
The Conanicus Avenue seawall project is being sent out for competitive bids. If all goes as planned, the seawall will be rebuilt and the road permanently repaired to current codes by late summer or early this fall, according to state Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Ed Parker.
"We knew we had a problem before the severity of the storm was even predicted," Parker said. "I was at the seawall discussing the project with Town Administrator Bruce Keiser just a couple of days before the storm hit. We talked about bidding out what appeared to be an approximately $600,000 project. Then the worst scenario possible happened. We were slammed by the most devastating nor'easter the state has experienced in years. After the seawall collapsed on Monday, I declared a state of emergency and immediately brought in crews to make repairs to get traffic up and moving again."
Police Chief Thomas Tighe and Public Works Director Steven Goslee gave emergency reports on storm damage at the Monday, April 16 meeting of the Town Council sitting as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners. They said the nor'easter began Sunday afternoon and continued late into Monday with pounding winds and more than three inches of rain recorded at the Water Treatment Plant on North Main Road.
They also said that the greatest damage occurred late Monday afternoon on Conanicus Avenue at the Emerson Lane entrance to Shoreby Hill, where part of the seawall and road were washed away. The road had been closed earlier that day because of pounding waves and extreme high tides.
Tighe said then that state-hired workers were at the seawall on April 16 and planned to return with heavy equipment the following day to make emergency repairs to the road and seawall that are part of the state road system. Traffic was rerouted through Shoreby Hill via Bryer and Mount Hope Avenues.
Parker said that although the repairs are considered temporary, they are better than "just a quick fix that will wash out with the first heavy rain. Although we can't predict the future, the repairs made by the state crew should be sufficient to survive most heavy weather, unless, of course we get hit with another storm the magnitude of last week's nor'easter. When shorelines are inundated with huge tidal surges and pounding surf with that much power, there's no telling how much damage they will do," Parker said.
He went on to explain that engineers will closely inspect the area around the wall to see how much erosion has taken place. He said that once water gets behind the wall and separates the wall from the land it is protecting, when the tide goes out, it sucks the soil and everything else with it and takes it out to sea, leaving a hole underneath. In this case, the erosion is under the road. Parker said that they have to determine the extent of the damage before they can get a realistic quote.
"Right now, we think the repairs can be made for about $600,000, but we can't tell until damage assessments are completed," Parker said. After the engineers figure out exactly what is required, the project will be put out to bid and repairs will begin. We estimate that everything should be finished by late summer or early fall. It's a large project and not something we should rush," he said.