March 25, 2014 03:44PM
By DALE P. FAULKNER
Sun Staff Writer
WESTERLY — A $3.1 million federal project that will put 84,000 cubic yards of sand back on Misquamicut State Beach is set to begin by mid-April.
The work, which is intended to bring the state beach back to its original 1960 design profile, will be performed by MZM Construction Co. of Newark, N.J. The firm was awarded a contract for the project last week and it is scheduled to be completed by June 1, Chris Hatfield, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager, told the Town Council Monday during an update overview.
The sand will come from Rhode Island Sand and Spring of Charlestown, and it will be trucked in by Gallagher Equipment Inc. of Burrillville.
Work will be performed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hatfield said non-trucking work might eventually also occur on Saturdays to ensure that the work is finished by June 1. The completion date was set so as not to interfere with the summer beach season.
Trucks carrying sand will take Route 2 in Charlestown to Route 1 to Airport Road and then on to Winnapaug Road and Atlantic Avenue.
“We wanted the trucks to stay off of the east side of Atlantic Avenue, it’s rather squishy,” Hatfield said.
Pre-construction surveys of local roads and the beach parking lot will be conducted. “We told the contractor, ‘if you damage it you fix it,’” Hatfield said of potential damage that could occur to local roads from the truck fleet.
The project is being paid for with federal funds under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, part of the federal government’s response to Superstorm Sandy. The project qualified for funds, Hatfield said, because the restored beach will protect the state beach pavilion and parking lot.
In addition to adding a layer of protection for the public property, the project will make more beach space available. Hatfield said there was a 50-foot wide area for beachgoers before the storm. When the beach is restored the available space at high tide will increase to a 150-foot-width. The state beach is about 3,300 feet long.
The state Department of Environmental Management is serving as a public agency sponsor on the project.
Resident John Ornberg asked about the type of sand to be used for the project. Larry Mouradjian, DEM assistant director of natural resources management, said samples submitted to the department were consistent with the grain, size, and color of existing sand at the beach.
Ornberg also questioned the philosophy of the project, saying much of the sand would soon wash out to sea or be carried toward Weekapaug or Watch Hill. “It doesn’t seem very effective to me,” Ornberg said.
Ornberg said he was also concerned that the project might not be completed by June 1, and he raised questions about the procedure for repairing damage that might occur to local roads.
MZM Construction Co. was selected as part of a non-competitive bid process the federal government offers under the Small Business Administration.
The company is considered a small, disadvantaged business. Hatfield said the company has worked on other Army Corps projects in New Jersey and is working on beach restoration projects in Milford and West Haven, Conn.