Great divide blocks Drift Road


WESTPORT — There's no way through Drift Road for now as crews rebuild the flood-damaged Sam Tripp Brook  bridge and culvert.

The bridge crossing just north of Hixbridge Road had survived since the late 1800s but was done in by the March flood of 2010. Stormwater dislodged the old cut-stone walls and supports and partially blocked the culvert below causing a partial washout of the road.

To set things right, the Board of Selectmen recently approved a $228,000 contract to replace the crumbled bridge. Tibbetts Engineering of New Bedford designed and is managing the project, and work is being handled by Grove Construction Co.

First, workers completely dug out the old structure to a depth of nearly 12 feet so that a new reinforced concrete foundation and walls can be poured. Water from the brook will be funneled through a much larger aluminum culvert designed to handle the rush of storm water  — hopefully without backing up as happened in 2010.

Work is expected to take another three or four weeks to complete.

Because of a federal disaster designation after that flood, the Federal Emergency Manaement Agency (FEMA) will foot 80 percent of the bill. The town's share comes from $35,000 worth of reimbursement awarded to Westport in the wake of tropical storm Irene last year.

At the same time, the Selectmen approved a separate $56,580 project to shore up East Beach Road which was undermined by Irene. Tibbetts Engineering will also oversee that FEMA effort as well.







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Jim McGaw

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.