NARRAGANSETT – Town officials are concerned that a $17 million bond approved in 2012 will not be enough to complete the renovation and reconstruction of a number of roads originally slated for the project, estimating that a total of about $25 million will be needed.
“The $17 million is not going to rebuild all of the roadways that were listed,” said Narragansett Department of Public Works Director (DPW) Mike DiCicco. “I think it was about $25 million that will have covered everything. We’re going to be able to finish a good chunk of the roads but we’ll have to regroup and figure out what we’re going to do to go after the rest of them at some point.”
As a general rule of thumb, about $1 million covers the reconstruction of about one mile of roadway.
The 2012 road bond resulted in a three-phase plan designed to reconstruct or renovate 115 of the town’s most harshly deteriorated roadways – about 20 percent of the town’s overall roads. The remaining 80 percent fall into Narragansett’s standard pavement management program, which is funded annually as part of the town’s operating budget. To date, 78 roadways have been completed as part of the bond project, with the first phase of the plan being completed in 2015 and the second finished by 2019, with some exceptions.
Phase 1 of the road bond project consisted of easier repairs and renovations, meaning roads that did not have complications, such as problematic sewage lines, drainage issues or wetlands requiring state oversight, attached to them. Phase 2 addressed only those more complex routes. Phase 3, which was proposed to address about 45 roads, is a combination of both Phase 1 and Phase 2.
DiCicco explained that of the few remaining roads left to be completed as part of the second phase, complications arose during the rebuilding and renovation processes that halted the work.
“Some of the roads had residents that have, as we started to get into these projects, [sewer location issues] that became a question and so some of these roads got pushed back so they weren’t completed,” he said.
These yet-to-completed roads from Phase 2 are Circuit Drive, Leatherleaf Trail, Raymond Drive and Juniper Trail. According to DiCicco, work will begin on Circuit and Raymond Drives and Leatherleaf Trail when the construction season resumes in the spring of this year, though DPW is holding off on Juniper Trail due to drainage issues.
Like most other professions, the process has also been slowed by the ongoing pandemic, the DPW director said.
“The issue we’re running into now with [state agencies], just like us here at DPW…you have so many people working remotely,” he said. “Even though we’re trying to get stuff to everybody, sometimes it sits, sometimes it doesn’t, because we’re all at different places at different times right now.”
In 2019, the previous town council allocated $5 million towards the third phase of the project. After that allocation, there is about $5.6 million remaining in the original bond for the yet-to-be-completed work. The problem, DiCicco explained, is that those funds would likely not cover the 29 roads still needing work as part of Phase 3.
“I don’t think the $5.6 million is going to make it through [the 29 roads slated for Phase 3],” he said. “We’re going to run short, that’s the problem. If we do allocate the $5.6 million, and use some of it for South Pier Road, Woodruff Road or Boston Neck Road, you’re going to run short on those other 29 roads.”
The town has contracted BETA Group, Inc., an engineering consultant, to assist with the realization of the bond’s goal. Prior to that, all work pertaining to the project was completed within DPW.
The following roads have been completed as part of Phase 3 of the road bond project, according to DPW: Birchwood Drive, Brown Street, Chestnut Street, Fairway Court, King Fisher Road, Lakeview Drive, Laneway Court, Lupine Trail, Marten Avenue, Marsh Lane, Osprey Road, Perkins Avenue, Rodman Street, Watson Avenue and Wilson Drive.
The following roads are still slated to be completed as part of Phase 3: Algonquin Road, Beach Street, Elm Avenue, Fernleaf Trail, Island Road, Jennifer Court, Lake Road (spring 2021), Leeann Drive, Linden Road, Marine Drive, Memorial Square, Old Boston Neck Road, Old Pine Road, Old Point Judith Road, Osceola Avenue (spring 2021), Ottawa Trail (spring 2021), Rockland Street, Sachem Road (spring 2021), Saybrooke Avenue, South River Drive, South Trail, Sunset Boulevard, Thornapple Road, Tupelo Trail, Wampum Road, Wheatfield Cove Road, Wolf Road (spring 2021) and Wood Avenue.
Larger, more frequented routes such as Ocean Road and Boston Neck Road are owned and maintained by the state. South Pier Road, which hosts the town’s middle and high schools, is town-owned though its reconstruction and repair are aided by state funding. The funding to assist that maintenance was recently pushed back to 2026.
“I do have some ideas up my sleeve for what we could do there – quick fixes to hold it over until the state aid becomes available,” said DiCicco.