WESTERLY — The setup for Springfest begins on May 4, but the project to replenish sand on Misquamicut beach has still not progressed beyond the preliminary stages. On Tuesday, the contractor, MZM Construction of New Jersey, was installing fencing that will keep beach-goers out of the work zone, but no sand had been delivered.
The plan calls for the restoration to progress from west to east, so that the western section of the beach and the parking lot where Springfest will take place on May 9 to 11 will reopen in time.
The $3.1 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project involves adding 84,000 cubic yards of sand to the beach — enough to fill the beds of 38,200 pickup tricks — to restore it to its 1960 profile.
Rhode Island Sand and Spring of Charlestown will deliver the material, using two of its own trucks and 14 additional trucks from Gallagher Equipment Inc. of Smithfield.
The plan calls for the trucks, each carrying up to 38 cubic yards of sand, to travel down Route 2 in Charlestown to Route 1, to Airport Road, then to Winnapaug Road and Atlantic Avenue. Work will take place weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in one area at a time, although that could change as the Springfest date approaches. The deadline for the completion of the entire project is June 1, and the penalty to the contractor for not finishing on time is $2,385 per day.
Neither MZM Construction nor Rhode Island Sand and Spring would comment on the progress of the project. Edward Moore, MZM senior project manager, referred all questions to the Army Corps and a woman at Rhode Island Sand and Spring who would not identify herself would only say that the company was ready to get started with the sand deliveries.
Christopher Hatfield, the Army Corps project manager, said deliveries of sand would begin in the next few days. Dump trucks will transport the sand to the staging area where it will be stockpiled, and articulated trucks, used for hauling loads over rough or uneven terrain, will then bring it to the beach.
“They’ll try to build up the stockpile this week and hopefully start moving it from the stockpile onto the beach. They use what’s called articulated dump trucks. So the road dumps will dump it, and then they’ll load it a second time into an articulated dump truck, which can then run out onto the beach,” he said.
Town Council member Caswell Cooke Jr., who is also executive director of the Misquamicut Business Association, has been following the project closely.
Cooke said he was optimistic that the Springfest vendors area would be open on time.
“As long as it’s done with the west end of the beach before May 4, because remember, Springfest is May 9, but the first stuff comes in on May 4, the first rides and everything arrive on May 4,” he said. “So they know, it’s in their contract that they have to be out of that side of the beach. All I know is, we’re locked and loaded at Springfest, and we cannot turn back now. We’ve got 50 vendors that are committed, we’ve got all the entertainment booked. We’re ready to go.”
Westerly Town Engineer Paul Leblanc, who said he had been expecting the sand to arrive sooner, noted it would be up to the contractor to adjust to the tight deadline.
“There are some other beach functions that have been scheduled, so it’s really going to be up to the contractor who was awarded the job to make all the adjustments and to make sure the work does not interfere with those as discussed,” he said, in the pre-construction meeting.
Cooke said he thought that once they got started, the sand deliveries would not take more than a couple of days. “I talked to a couple of truckers who do this stuff for a living and between the distance of where they’re getting the sand, if they’ve got 20 trucks, which I assume they would have, they can have all the sand delivered in three or four days,” he said. “The bottom line is, this isn’t an issue if they can get it done in a week. If they need to spend several weeks pushing this stuff around on the beach, who cares? That’s not going to affect anything. They’d just better not fill my parking lot.”
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