Bristol: 2012 in Review
As it turned out, the anticipation of the Hope Street construction project may have been worse than the actual construction, and the debate as to whether or not Hope Street and Thames Streets should be one-way became the more important point.
Other than a short break to allow the Fourth of July parade to pass through town, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and LAL Construction worked steady for nearly seven months until the downtown stretch of Hope Street had new sidewalks with pedestrian lighting, a new roadway and healthy trees. The trade-off: a number of parking spaces in the bust downtown area were sacrificed to meet highway standards. While 13 spaces were expected to be lost to widen the travel lanes near Church Street, nearly double that amount were removed once DOT clearly marked the 12 bus stop lanes that exist within the half-mile stretch. Officials also eliminated a number of crosswalks downtown, leading to some concerns by local residents.
Hope Street gets a new look, not a new direction
While under construction, Hope Street was temporarily turned into a one-way road heading north, while Thames Street went one-way heading south. The traffic pattern was a boon for some, a bust for others, prompting both sides to ask the town council to decide whether to leave the traffic one-way or go back to two-way once the construction was complete.
Citing safety issues, officials called for the two roads to return to two-way traffic.
Water woes: In some places there’s not enough …
A floodgate of water issues surfaced in 2012.
After auditors determined serious flaws in the policies and procedures that were in place at the Bristol County Water Authority, director Pasquale DeLise decided, amidst an outcry of criticism, to retire. During the transition, it was discovered that portions of a water line that services Franklin Street were severely blocked. As a result, the Franklin Court Independent Living facility was reported as non-compliant for its ability to provide fire suppression to the building. After Franklin Court spent nearly $15,000 of its own money to discover the root of the problem lay with BCWA, the water company agreed to correct the water flow issue.
Across town, more water flow issues – or, more correctly – lack of water flow, prompted the BCWA to remove several fire hydrants from the Poppasquash Road neighborhood. Noting that there wasn’t enough water pressure to make the hydrants functional, the BCWA decided to remove them, rather than risk a mutual aid company attempting to connect to them. Bristol Fire Chief Bob Martin alerted area fire departments that, should a fire occur, a tanker task force would be implemented until the BCWA and the town of Bristol could arrive at a more permanent fire suppression solution.
…in other places, there’s just too much
Flooding continues to be a serious issue, particularly for those who live along the Tanyard Brook. During periods of prolonged rain, neighborhoods that abut the brook often became part of the brook as the water spilled over the culvert. After discussing the issue for nearly 20 years, the town began construction in August to provide relief. Phase one will begin to correct the flooding issue from the outfall at Walkers Cove to Garfield Avenue at a cost of $3.5 million.
Schools sue Warren
Six months after the Warren Town Council defied a mandate that they pay $12.16 million for education this school year, the Bristol Warren Regional School District filed suit against that town, setting the stage for a showdown on how schools are funded in this regional district.
The district’s complaint, filed in Rhode Island Superior Court on September 6, seeks to force Warren to pay the full amount of education aid approved by the Joint Finance Committee in late March. Town officials said then, and continue to maintain, that they’ll only pay $11.75 million this year, the same as last year — $416,000 less than mandated.
Lost and found: The Avenir
After competing in the Newport to Bermuda race, the 41 foot sloop Avenir was on its return trip to Bristol when the rudder assembly broke apart in rough seas. With seasick crew members and no hope of repairing the damaged rudder, the crew abandoned ship and climbed aboard a passing cruise ship. Joe and Linda Murray followed their boat electronically, using a transponder that was installed on board. Once the Avenir was 370 miles southeast of Newport, the Murrays sent a salvage crew to retrieve their boat. Back in port at Bristol, the boat fared well at sea, and was due to set sail within weeks of its unfortunate crewless cruise.
The Tony award
A Portuguese immigrant who helped others learn English as a second language at his dining room table had a very good year in 2012. While finishing up his first term on the town council, Antonio “Tony” Teixeira, was given the honor of serving as chief marshal of the 2012 Fourth of July parade in Bristol. And if that wasn’t enough, four months later he was elected as town administrator, being the first Portuguese-born and Independent candidate to hold that office.