East Beach Road may get recycled asphalt fix

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A plan to repair and rebuild, to a degree, East Beach Road is headed to state and federal officials for review and comment.

Tibbett's Engineering, the company hired by the town to come up with recommendations for the storm-battered road, has prepared a proposal to use recycled asphalt on the stretch that was washed out, most recently by Hurricane Sandy.

Recycled asphalt is essentially ground up asphalt that can be mixed into existing sand and gravel. It binds with that material over time to produce a firm yet somewhat flexible surface. An industry website claims that it is well-suited to difficult terrain and is less prone to cracking than asphalt in places that lack a proper roadway foundation.

It is also less costly than a finished asphalt road and serves to cut down on dust in places where a full-fledged asphalt road is not practical.

While wanting to protect East Beach Road from further damage, several officials have worried publicly that any attempt to build an expensive permanent roadway on the vulnerable stretch would amount to pouring good money after bad. The existing cobble and sand mix (and perhaps recycled asphalt) can be more easily and quickly graded back into place after a storm, highway officials have said.

Town Administrator John Healey reported to the Selectmen Monday that Tibbett’s plans are on their way to DEP and Federal Aid Highway / DOT’s Mark Carmichael for review and comment.

"Once the permitting is secured, the project will be bid early in the new year," he said.

Other issues reported to the Selectmen by Mr. Healey included:

• Drainage issues in the area of 275 State Road (Durfee Bowling Lanes). At Mr. Healey's request, Bob Rogers from Tibbett’s Engineering "went out in the thunderstorm (last week) and took pictures of the water coming off the retention basin of the storage facility onto Mr. Mello’s property."

• Cracks that have appeared on a column of the recently rebuilt Hix Bridge over the Westport River do not appear to be structural in nature, according to Alton Ellis of the Bridge Section of the Department of Transportation in Taunton. Mr. Ellis said the cracking is a separation problem common to this type of construction and is likely limited to the fiberglass jacket over the column. He said he intends to check it more thoroughly and report back.

• In response to complaints received about sand removal work on Beach Avenue, Mr. Healey said he checked with the Highway Department's interim head Chris Goncalves. Records of the work "clearly reflect that the clearing of sand from Beach Avenue, which is a public way, is being done under approved procedures and permits from the ConCom with concurrence from DEP.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.