West Side Road sidewalk to be installed
A new half-mile long sidewalk will be installed along the north side of West Side Road from Ocean Avenue to the entrance of Champlin’s Marina, with construction expected to begin in January and be completed by June of 2020. The town is installing the Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk out of public safety concerns. That portion of road is heavily traveled during the summer season.
The $1.2 million West Side Road Improvement project, which will be funded by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, attracted four bidders to the Town Hall chamber on Nov. 14, when Town Engineer Jim Geremia detailed the project’s scope and bid process. Also in attendance were Highways Superintendent Mike Shea, Town Manager Ed Roberge, and Robin Walsh, RIDOT’s Resident Engineer for Construction Management.
The contractors in attendance were (according to the order they signed in at the meeting): the Narragansett Improvement Company, Cardi Corporation, D’Ambra Construction and J.H. Lynch and Sons.
Geremia did not disclose the budget to The Block Island Times prior to the meeting, but Roberge was quoted as saying the budget would be about $1.2 million during a Town Council meeting on July 17. Roberge called that amount “the engineer’s estimate,” and said the project would take 10 to 12 weeks to complete.
Geremia said bid proposals from the contractors are due back on Monday, Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. at the Town Manager’s office. The New Shoreham Town Council will award the contract at its meeting on Dec. 18. Geremia said, “Once the contract documents are submitted you will get a notice to proceed with construction. The completion date is June 12 of 2020.”
“This is a serious project,” said Geremia, noting that construction on the sidewalk would begin in early January. “I want it done by June 12. I’ll be blunt. This is Block Island. Keep in mind, it’s an island,” he said, referring to logistical complexities of conducting construction activities on the island. “The project has a very tight timeframe, so it’s important you coordinate with the boat schedule.”
“Currently, there are no sidewalks on West Side Road,” said Geremia, noting that the work includes landscaping, such as loaming and seeding. “That is required,” as is “some removal of material that is there. The idea is to remove that and put in the sidewalks.”
Geremia made it clear to the contractors that the roads should be cleaned and cleared when work activity has ceased. “At the end of the work week make sure the roads are swept and passable,” he said. “People do visit the island in the offseason. So we want to make sure there are no obstructions. Be aware that that is a requirement” of the contract.
Geremia said the project has been on the town’s to-do list for a long time. “This has been a project for how long Mike? Ten years?” asked Geremia of Mike Shea, the town’s Highways Superintendent.
“25 years,” said Shea.
“So, it’s been a long time coming,” said Geremia, noting that he understood the challenges associated with meeting the deadline, which could be delayed due to inclement weather, or other factors.
“If it did come down to a crunch time, would nighttime work activity be permitted?” asked Shea.
Geremia said the contract’s schedule calls for construction to be conducted “five days a week, normal business hours, with permission from the town.” However, he said, “If you decided to work later, or on a Saturday, request it, and if there’s no activities going on” the town would probably approve it. “The town has been very flexible” with that kind of scenario.
“Most of the contractors through the years have worked four 10-hour days,” said Geremia. “That’s generally what contractors have done on the island, but it’s up to you.”
“If that deadline is not met, and the project was not completed, it would be a complete mess here,” said Shea, noting that June gets busy on the island.
“I don’t want to talk about that now,” said Geremia. “There are many things that would have to happen” for a contractor to not meet the deadline.
Geremia said the town would be funding a police detail for traffic control throughout the construction period. “The police will work with you on the schedule,” he said.
Geremia also asked the contractors to try to protect their work during construction from graffiti.
“I don’t like graffiti,” he said, referencing the graffiti that was scrawled on the newly renovated Mill Pond Bridge in July of 2018. “You need to protect it. It’s common sense.”