Shoreline, badly exposed, to be addressed

Fri, 04/06/2018 - 8:00am
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The site is a shoreline strewn with rusted metal and assorted junk, revealed through several seasons of extreme weather.

With further erosion expected at West Beach, Town Engineer Jim Geremia took a group of contractors on a pre-bid walking tour of the site in preparation for a project that Geremia said will help “clean and stabilize” the shoreline. A planned revetment is expected to utilize an assortment of materials that will help protect the shoreline for about 20 years, at a cost of a little more than $1.8 million.

Geremia said the revetment could last up to 20 years, “weather permitting.”

The project will involve excavating the old landfill in 100-foot increments from the south to the north along the shoreline, and bury trash from the cleanup in town-owned land adjacent to the Transfer Station on the seaward side. Fifty percent of excavated material will be screened before being re-buried, and that material, as well as wood chips and soil, will be used to cap the landfill.

The proposed shoreline revetment, or retaining wall, will be sloped and fortified with stone at its base, with a two-foot deep cover of soil and vegetation for the remaining section. The Request for Proposals states that the contractor will conduct daily cleanups of the site, and may be directed to remove and transport bulk metal materials to a recycling center.

The town held a pre-bid conference prior to the tour, at which Geremia detailed the scope of the construction work, and answered questions. Geremia said that Oliver Libby, who works at Providence based Jim Geremia & Associates, Inc., will serve as project engineer. 

The construction companies that attended the tour were J.H. Lynch & Sons (Cumberland, R.I.); A. Transue Corporation (Block Island); Northern Construction Services, LLC (Palmer, Mass.); Cardi Corporation (Warwick, R.I.); RC & D, Inc. (Pawtucket, R.I); Cherenzia Excavation (Pawcatuck, Conn.); and East Coast Construction (Portsmouth, R.I.).

Geremia said the shoreline has been ravaged by storm impact over the years, causing a breach of the town’s old landfill and leading to pollution on the beach. He said the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council has predicted that the shoreline will erode three feet per year, or 45 feet over a 15-year period.

“This will be a constant battle,” said Geremia of maintaining the revetment. He told The Times that an annual town maintenance plan needs to be budgeted and implemented to preserve the revetment. During the tour on what was a bitterly cold day, Geremia said, “Most of the old landfill was a burn landfill,” meaning items that had been deposited there were burned prior to being buried.

There was a strong reaction from the people taking the tour to the extensive amount of erosion. Besides substantial damage to the shoreline, there were metal scraps, car parts, rubber, and rubbish strewn along the coast. Some on the tour took photographs, while others surveyed the site.

Town Manager Ed Roberge and Facilities Manager Sam Bird voiced their concerns while touring the rocky West Beach shoreline. Bird said, “This is the most rapidly eroding shoreline on the island,” while Roberge noted that the coastal erosion was “pretty substantial.”

“This is way worse than the last time I saw it,” said Bird, stepping over rocks and debris on the beach.

“This has changed a lot from the past four nor’easters,” said Roberge, who conferred with both Bird and Geremia during the tour. “This shoreline took a real beating.”

The project is noted under debt service in the narrative overview of the town’s proposed 2019 operating and capital budget, where it states that it will be fully funded by the town. Final funding authorization will be considered at the May 7, 2018 Financial Town Meeting, and borrowing is expected to add approximately $135,987 to the FY 2020 budget. The construction project is slated to begin in September of 2018.

The contractors’ bid proposals are due back to Roberge on Monday, April 9 at 1 p.m. 

The project has a completion date of May 22, 2019, with work activities restricted between May 25, 2018 and Sept. 7, 2018, due to odors caused by excavation. The contractor is only permitted to do prep related work during the restricted period.