Rebuilt beach road gets rough reviews


If those who rebuilt East Beach Road want to be paid in full, they need to return and do a better job.

So said Board of Selectmen Chairman Antone Vieira Jr. at last week's meeting.

Informed that the repair project for the battered road is about done, Mr. Vieira begged to disagree, calling the road a "mess … Embarrassing."

Tibbets Engineering Co. is overseeing the road rebuild that is being funded by an 80/20 mix of federal and town funds. Up to $200,000 is available.

After much discussion last year, Tibbets and the Selectmen had agreed on an approach that involved rebuilding the road along its current route, including a bend put in place when Tropical Storm Sandy washed away a stretch of the road toward its east end.

Starting in November, the contractor stripped away a surface layer of hard-packed sand and cobble and then packed in a fresh layer of reconstituted asphalt mix — mostly asphalt stripped away from road jobs mixed with sand. That option was chosen after the state informed the town that it would not support yet another repaving job there — the recycled asphalt is more flexible and less prone to cracking and crumbling.

Town Administrator Jack Healey agreed that the road is washboard-like which he said is partly due to the cold weather that inhibits the compression  of the new surface.

But Selectmen also said that they have noticed that parts of the road appear to be eroding away.

Acting Highway Department Surveyor Chris Gonsalves said his crews have been dumping stone onto those areas to prevent further washout.

Mr. Vieira said he is frustrated that Westport followed the state's instructions and is now left with a road that is too bumpy to drive over.

He called on Tibbets to make a return appearance before the board to explain the situation and urged that Westport cease paying the company until it is satisfied with the outcome.

East Beach Road has been ruined by a series of tropical and winter storms.

Although last week's snowstorm brought heavy winds, the road was spared further damage because the wind and waves were mostly from the northeast.



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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.