Final phase of Watch Hill infrastructure project set to begin in the fall with a little help from the Watch Hill Conservancy

WESTERLY — Completion of a road, sidewalk, drainage and infrastructure project in the commercial area of Watch Hill is expected to begin this fall.

The Watch Hill Conservancy, which covered the cost of part of an earlier phase of the project, has offered to assist the town with the cost of the project after bids came in higher than anticipated.

According to Town Engineer Sheila McGauvran, the town was alloted $1.4 million from the state Transportation Improvement Fund but the low bid came in at $1.64 million. “We’re trying to value-engineer to reduce the cost,” McGauvran said.

Deborah Lamm, chairwoman of the Watch Hill Conservancy, confirmed the organization is willing to contribute funds toward the cost of the project.

“The conservancy contributed to this project in the past and we’re pleased to work with the town to bring it to completion,” Lamm said.

Current plans call for repaving Bay Street from Larkin Road to Sunset Avenue, Wauwinnet Avenue to Sunset Avenue to about 200 feet east of Bay Street; and a small part of Larkin Road. New concrete sidewalks will be installed as well as granite curbs, some of which were removed and stockpiled during the first phase of the project. Decorative street lighting and decorative lighted bollards will also be installed.

“This is really the final frosting for Bay Street to make it shine the way it should shine,” Lamm said.

Lamm declined to say how much the conservancy is willing to contribute to the project, saying conservancy members had not yet reviewed the bids. The conservancy is also hopeful the town might be able to pay for part of the overage, she said.

The first phase of the project, which started in 2011 and stretched into 2013, involved replacement of the underground stormwater drainage system on Bay Street and placing underground duct banks in anticipation of moving electric and communications utility wires underground in the final phase of the project. The conservancy contributed about $730,000 to cover the cost of installing the underground duct banks as well as part of the road construction cost.

The state originally allocated $763,000 for the second phase. Town officials missed a deadline to submit expanded plans for the project and then Gov. Gina Raimondo rerouted the funds along with funds for projects in other towns for use on the state’s failing bridges.

In April 2017, the Town Council agreed to spend $67,500 to repair and replace temporary sidewalks with new temporary sidewalks along Bay Street. The original temporary sidewalks had fallen into disrepair and posed a safety hazard, town officials and Watch Hill merchants said.

McGauvran credited the work of state Sen. Dennis Algiere, R-Westerly, with playing an important role in the state reallocating and increasing the amount of funds for the project. McGauvran plans to discuss the project and bids with the Town Council in the coming weeks.

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