HOPKINTON — “The last two weeks have been a blur,” Ashaway resident Kenneth Melbourne said as he walked around his property. The source of his stress is road work on Route 216, known locally as Ashaway Road, that runs in front of his house. Melbourne claims the heavy equipment used during the first stage of the project generated strong vibrations that caused extensive damage to his home at 230 Ashaway Road.
The work, which is being done by the Cardi Corporation under a $2.2 million contract, is taking place between Routes 3 and 91.
“Construction began last September and was scheduled to be completed in the next few weeks,” said Rosamaria Amoros, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. “The main focus of the work is reclaiming the road surface — grinding the top of the existing roadway and mixing it with the underlying soils to create a base before placing a fresh layer of asphalt on top for a new riding surface. Drainage work is also taking place as part of the contract.” Melbourne pointed out large cracks in the wall of his garage and in the deck of his new swimming pool. But the cracks are the least of his problems.
“The worst was a machine that eats up the asphalt,” he said. “That vibrated everything, pots and pans in the house, things falling off the shelves, and all of a sudden, my well water just goes away. The well just dried up. Something changed under the ground because of the vibration.”
Melbourne said he had no choice but to dig a new well, an expensive proposition.
“I had to remortgage my house. I went yesterday and signed the final papers,” he said in a recent interview. “I needed $7,500 for the well. I have no idea what this is going to run,” he said, pointing to a particularly large crack in his garage wall, which was wide enough to see daylight streaming in from the outside.
Melbourne’s neighbor Gary Partelo, who lives at 232 Ashaway Road, said the vibrations from the road work also created cracks in his garage. “This one here was sealed up, and then when this started, it opened up again. It was never cracked outside, but it is cracked outside now, and I’ve go another one at that window over there that’s new,” he said. “I understand they have to do this to pack the road down, but, you know....”
Melbourne’s damage is not confined to his well and the cracks in the walls.
“My new flat screen TV on my bedroom wall just died. I assume from the vibrations which were many and often over a week and a half or more. When I noticed the TV in the living room shaking with a blurred picture I figured out why the one in the bedroom died. I got up and held it to try to keep it from dying also,” he said.
Amoros said: “We are aware that a nearby resident has voiced concerns about damage to his property as a result of the project. We have forwarded that information to the Cardi Corporation; they are investigating the matter.”
Melbourne said he was hoping for a quick response from Cardi.
“Cardi Corp. sent down a man to check everything out which he did, too pictures and then he said, ‘Well I’m going to set up these things in the ground that check vibration.’ So he did. But that was yesterday. ‘It’s over,’ I told him. You’ve got little machines running back and forth out there now. It’s not as serious as what I’ve been going through,” Melbourne said.
Cardi Safety Director Larry Dozier confirmed that he had been notified of the complaints from Melbourne and Partelo, but he said he needed more information in order to respond.
“I’m aware of the situation where there are two people who are complaining that there are problems with our paving operation,” he said. “The only comment I have is that I have insufficient facts [so] that I can comment.”