NARRAGANSETT - The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is finishing its work to repair the sea wall in Narragansett Pier after it was significantly damaged by the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The storm, which stripped the town beach of much of its sand and severely damaged buildings such as the Coast Guard House, also struck the sea wall with devastating force, breaking up the sidewalk and tearing out a 200 foot section of the wall itself.
Frank Corrao, III, Deputy Chief Engineer at RIDOT, provided an update on the repair work that has been done over the past several weeks.
“First we put out a bid to begin repairs for all the damage [done] by Hurricane Sandy and hired J.H. Lynch and Sons, a contractor from Cumberland,” said Corrao. “The project included replacement of all the sidewalks along the wall and replacement of 200 feet of the sea wall plus the parapet wall above at the southern end of the Narragansett sea wall.”
“We’ve repaired all the catch basins on the seaward side of Ocean Road and replaced several of the frames and covers,” he added. “To date, we finished all the sidewalks except the area where the wall is being repaired and the cleaning of the pipes, which are the last things to be done.
Corrao further stated that although the contract completion date with J.H. Lynch and Sons has been set for December 25, he anticipates the repairs to be done well before unless repair work is stalled by further inclement weather. The repair work will cost approximately $1.2 million, which will be funded through monies from the Federal Highway Administration and the state.
RIDOT has been responding to numerous municipalities throughout southern Rhode Island to direct repairs or, in places where no state roads exist, to assist in the construction efforts.
“We are currently working with local communities to provide assistance where possible on some of the local roadways as well,” said Corrao. “For things that are eligible for federal funding, we will be assisting repairs, but those lists have not been finalized yet.”
According to Corrao, the effort to repair state roadways on Block Island have been especially difficult because of the extra transportation of workers, materials and equipment that is needed.
“The Block Island work is ongoing, which has been a major challenge to address in a quick manner given [the need for] getting the materials and equipment over by barge to do such extensive work,” said Corrao. “There is a contractor out there working right now, and they have had to replace a segment of Spring Street and rebuild almost a 15 foot high section of roadway, as well as almost 2,000 feet of Corn Neck Road, that was totally washed away.”
Corrao explained RIDOT’s role in the response and repair work that has been conducted during Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.
“The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency is responsible for incident response for any storm, but we act as both support staff during an event and, at the completion of the storm, RIDOT takes a lead role in providing teams to assess any damages of an event,” said Corrao. “We have had people ready and available, both on the night of the storm, and until RIEMA determined it was safe to return.”
“RIDOT has now been set up to do bridge and road assessments of any damage caused by the hurricane,” he added. “We were able to put together scopes of work to perform the repairs, and secure the funding and put the work out to bid so we can have contractors come on board to assist and bring things back to normal.”
Town officials have also recently finished making a list of damaged town property to submit to its insurance carrier, Interlocal Trust, and state and federal agencies who will provide additional assistance. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama approved a disaster declaration request from Governor Lincoln Chafee for Washington, Bristol and Newport counties which will provide approximately $5 million in relief to municipalities.
Acting Town Manager Dean Hoxsie stated that the town is looking at approximately $2 million in damages to Narragansett Town Beach and the buildings which rest on site. Hoxsie noted, however, that that figure does not represent all out-of-pocket expenses, but will change depending on how much is covered by funding from the town’s insurance provider, RI Interlocal Trust, the National Flood Insurance Program, and ultimately the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“There are over 100 items we’ve identified [in town], from a tree down to major structural damage to buildings, and we’ve met with everyonem” said Hoxsie. “[Town Engineer] Jeff Ceasrine will meet Saturday morning with the flood insurance folks.”
“We are well underway to doing all our FEMA work, such as documenting overtime and vehicles used, just everything done during the storm and in the aftermath,” he added. “That whole process started during the storm, and we track everything.”
Hoxsie expressed particular concern for the replenishment of the town beach itself. Engineering firm Woods Hole Group, which the town hired to analyze the beach’s sand loss after Sandy, estimates that approximately 20,000 cubic yards of sand was lost, and only 8,000 to 10,000 cubic yards have been collected into the beach parking lots.
“The big question mark is the sand and how we recoup the money for the 20,000 cubic yards of sand we need and the labor,” said Hoxsie. “[Woods Hole Group] figures there is somewhere n the area of 8-10,000 cubic yards of sand in the parking lot, but that volume is a guess. There are timbers and debris in it, so we will have to screen it to see how much sand we have.”
“That would be a good source, but anything that is not on site we will have to buy,” he added. “We buy sand every single year for the beach at X amount of dollars to try to get the beach recovered every winter, but with that volume and scope of work, we will have to prepare a bid package because there is a lot of work.”
According to Deb Durda of the Parks and Recreation Department, the town spent $14,000 and $15,000 respectively on winter beach replenishment in 2012 and 2011. In 2010, the town spent $29,500.