Bristol fire chief says trucks can’t pass through watery Poppasquash Road

Poppasquash Road will remain closed until early April for repair work. Poppasquash Road will remain closed until early April for repair work.

Heavy seas from Hurricane Sandy knocked out a 30 foot section of the northern seawall that separates

Photo by Rich Dionne
Concerned resident Elizabeth Wheeler checks over the sea wall during her walk.

Photo by Rich Dionne
Sandy’s water surge destroyed part of the sea wall during the moon tide on Monday night.

Bristol Harbor from an adjacent salt pond. The structural damage, discovered earlier today as Fire Chief Bob Martin patrolled the town to assess the effects of the storm, isn’t the only thing of concern. The greater unknown is how much of the roadway beneath the asphalt is washed out as a result

“This is a critical issue,” said Chief Martin as he, Town Administrator Diane Mederos and others surveyed the area around noon on Tuesday. “”I will not let my engines on this road.”

Engineers for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation were on the scene, planning to do a more thorough inspection of the state road at low tide today.

Fire service in the Poppasquash neighborhood is already a major concern as Bristol County Water Authority lines do not provide enough pressure for fire suppression. Instead, a tanker task force from five communities are needed to set up holding tanks to deliver water in the event of a fire.

As of 12:30 p.m., Chief Martin said he would hold an emergency meeting to discuss the issue with Bristol firefighters, and inform departments that provide mutual aid that access to Poppasquash will be re-routed through Asylum Road in Colt State Park.

Erosion beneath the wall that was constructed in the 1930s as part of a Works Progress Act project, had been documented in the past, said RIDOT representative Luanne Nevitt, who visited the site.

“There’s a lot of scour. The base of the wall was compromised,” she said.

Low tide is expected to occur around 1:30 p.m. today. Erik Atkins, senior associate civil engineer from Green International Affiliates, an engineering firm contracted with RIDOT, said that once a more thorough inspection is done of the road’s subsurface, they will be able to make a better determination of what to do.

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