Work turns Warren street into parking lot


Few people in Warren looked forward to the weekend more than a half a dozen families at the bottom of Bridge Street. Last week was a trying one for some of them, but Friday night broiught some relief.

For more than a week Bridge Street, at its intersection with Water Street west to the water, had been an open pit as workers from CB Utility work to replace sewer mains under the town's $2 million sewer replacement project. The work is going well — ahead of schedule, Warren Town Manager Thomas Gordon reported.

Still, it hasn't been perfect, though town officials said they've tried hard to minimize  the impact on residents. Since work began around Jan. 8, the area has been torn up and littered with heavy equipment, pumps and bypasses, leaving half a dozen homes inaccessible by car, ambulance and fire truck. And a good-sized section of Bridge Street's sidewalk collapsed during construction, complicating the job.

Through it all, the only way to get to the bottom of the street had been on foot via considerable dodging of pumps, bulldozers and other hazards.

But the weekend brought some relief. Since the project reached the area, the Warren Fire Department has left its reserve engine in the front yard of one of the land-locked homesin case there's a fire or other emergency. Friday  Chief Al Galinelli heard from CB Utility officials that the road should become passable — not done, but passable — by the end of the day Friday. He was able to remove the truck that evening.

"So we'll be able to get trucks in and out of there," the chief said.

That means that cars were able to come and go for the first time in a week.

Apart from the town's posting of flyers on doors warning residents that construction was ongoing and parking would be affected and water possibly cut off, Bridge Street resident Kate Backes said there was little to no communication from the town about the work, its duration and impact. There should have been more, she said.

"I understand the need for the project and the benefit that the town will reap from it, Ms. Backes said. "That being said, there seems to have been a lack of communication from the town."

Ms. Backes said she and her fellow residents were unaware of the scope of the work and how it would affect them prior to the equipment and crews showing up. Consequently it's been disconcerting to hear of possible water cutoffs, she said, and an inconvenience for her and others to have to walk 300 or 400 yards up the road to get to their cars. For several elderly neighbors, the inconvenience was worse, she said.

Though he sympathizes with those who were inconvenienced, Mr. Gordon said Thursday that town officials have worked hard to make sure that the project causes as little disruption as possible. For weeks before work began last month, he said, the town held regular planning meetings to determine how to deal with the work's effect on Water Street and side streets. That's why the town placed flyers on doors warning them that water could be shut off this past week (to date, no water outages have occurred), he said.

It's also why the Warren Fire Department's backup engine was brought in a week ago and left in a front yard, Chief Galinelli said.

"We knew that once they started, to get a truck close to those houses would be virtually impossible," the chief said. "We would have to hand stretch a lot of hose down there. So we brought the truck down."

Mr. Gordon's estimate for the time of completion in the neighborhood?

"Some time in the next two or three weeks or so a majority of the sewer work part (of the overall project) will be complete. At that point CB Utility will stop work for the winter, and then come back and do the sidewalk and catch basin work in the Spring."

Town of Warren


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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.