The $2.09 million project has been needed for years, and town officials hope the work — replacing a series of degraded, broken and inadequate sewer lines — will help clear up water quality concerns at the Warren Town Beach, which is often closed to swimming following periods of heavy rain.
Though the area’s degraded sewer lines aren’t thought to be the only cause of the beach’s eColi problem, they are a part of it. That’s why councilors were glad last week to award the $2.09 million bid to Bristol’s CB Utility Co. It will be paid for with a combination of state, federal and local funds, including money approved by voters last year.
“This has been a long time coming,” said council vice president David Frerichs. “This is a good thing for the town and for the environment.”
The work will entail digging a long trench from the Little League field all the way to Bridge Street, replacing lines along the way and also working on perpendicular feeder lines that run off the main line. The area’s pipes are severely corroded in spots, and officials opted to go for total replacement rather than slip-lining, an earlier option espoused by former town manager Richard Paduch for cost reasons. Councilors have been adamant that the town is better off spending the extra money on total replacement, rather than lining existing lines.
“Slip lining doesn’t have many guarantees,” added Warren Town Manager Thomas Gordon. “The town, contractor and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are all in agreement (that) we don’t want to have to revisit this 10, 15 or 20 years from now.”
CB Utility officials have said they can start as early as the end of September, and town officials will meet with the contractor this coming week to try to come up with a plan to keep traffic moving smoothly throughout the project. They believe it will take upwards of a year to complete the work.
During that time, Mr. Gordon said, one of the top priorities wil lbe keeping traffic moving.
“We want to have as little impact on the residents as possible,” he said.
Another concern is the possibility of uncovering archaeological remains at the spot, which is close to historic Native American burials at Burr’s Hill. As part of an agreement with the state and several area tribes, including the Narragansetts and Wampanoags, the town will pay to have an archaeologist onsite during excavations just in case the diggers turn up anything. The area has been gone through at least three times previously, said Mr. Gordon, so there is not too much fear that something will turn up. But the possibility is enough, he said.
“We’ve had a number of meetings with the Wampanoags and the Narragansetts, and it’s caused the town and engineers to be very sensitive,” he said. “Even if culturally significant articles are not discovered during this, the town is committed to making sure we do this right.”
The costs associated with the onsite archaeologist is the responsibility of the town, Mr. Gordon noted, and will likely run several hundred thousand dollars.