2017-09-28 / Front Page

Town modifies parking plan at East Ferry

Ready to go to bid on $300K project

Following revisions to the blueprint approved in July, the town council gave the green light for the administration to finalize bid specs for the East Ferry parking lot.

Town Administrator Andy Nota presented “three minor modifications” to the council at its Sept. 18 meeting. During the previous session, the councilors approved the plan but said they were concerned with the travel lane’s width and the distance from the parking spots to the walkway.

“The staff went back and made some final adjustments that we thought could work,” Nota said. “We were able to hold onto the planning commission’s priority of greenspace near the water.”

The biggest concern was the amount of room from curb to curb, which currently is 64 feet. The plan unveiled in July reduced that width by 4 feet to accommodate a narrow stretch of grass with benches along the waterfront. Truck drivers and Ferry Wharf business owners, however, said maneuvering the lot was tricky at 64 feet; narrowing the width would add to that problem.

Since that discussion, the engineering team has split the difference. “We were able to expand the width by 2 feet while still preserving the greenspace,” Nota said. “Now it’s 62 feet.”

The second modification affects that greenspace. The original plan called for two entrances from the parking lot to the sitting area.

“An additional pedestrian entrance was included on the sidewalk along the waterfront,” Nota said. “There are now three access points. We spaced them appropriately.”

Finally, the engineering team shortened the walk from parking spaces to walkways to improve safety for children exiting cars.

According to Nota, the project is estimated to cost $300,000. Along with a $65,000 state grant for landscaping, crosswalks, stone benches and paving, there is $270,000 in the waterfront reserve, which is paid for by the three marina leases.

Now with the council’s blessing, the town set a cost estimate so it can solicit a request for proposals. Nota expects to advertise by November with a targeted start date in March. The first phase will be hardscaping, including curbs, sidewalks and paving. He hopes that will culminate in June. The beautification phase, with landscaping and bench installments, could linger through the summer.

Before that labor, however, the town will undergo infrastructure work, improving the drainage system, replacing waterlines and fixing the electrical conduit from Conanicut Marine to the dock’s gas tanks. It’ll be disruptive, Nota said, but work isn’t expected to break ground until after Columbus Day.

Nota said designing this project was challenging because of the “odd-shaped” property.

“It was a difficult engineering feat to accommodate all the interests,” he said.

“I’m happy to see they were made,” Councilwoman Mary Meagher said.

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