A slow rollout for Bristol waterfront upgrades

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 7/29/21

The plans and approvals are in place, and the bid has been awarded to Reagan Marine Construction of Middletown, but the actual construction of Bristol’s long-awaited marine fuel dock has yet to …

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A slow rollout for Bristol waterfront upgrades


The plans and approvals are in place, and the bid has been awarded to Reagan Marine Construction of Middletown, but the actual construction of Bristol’s long-awaited marine fuel dock has yet to happen. “They’ve had trouble sourcing some of the components,” said Town Administrator Steven Contente. “So we asked them not to begin until all the pieces were in place. We want to minimize disruption to the State Street pier.”

The final bid for the project was $398,000. Initially it was $464,000, but the Town was able to lower that number by planning to do some of the work in-house, including the construction of a shed and fence. Mr. Contente anticipates the project will get underway before the end of August, and be operational in the fall.

Once constructed, the fuel station will be operated by the Bristol Harbormaster’s Office, on call. Prices will be comparable and competitive with other marine fuel suppliers in the bay, and any profits will go into the town’s General Fund.

New breakwater under construction

The town plans to open bids for the Church Street Dock construction at the end of September. It’s a project that will happen entirely over the fall and winter, and be ready in time for the next boating season. The concrete wave-attenuating float system is already in the works, and will also be completed over the winter. It’s a system that’s not new — according to Harbormaster Gregg Marsili they are in use in harbors from Maine to the Caribbean, as well as at the Save the Bay campus in Providence — but it’s new to Bristol, and will represent a significant upgrade over the existing breakwater.

Designed to dampen swells to 5 feet, the system consists of a series of 16’x6’ concrete floats, 5.5’ deep, that are moored to the seafloor with an elastomeric polymer (kind of like a really strong bungee cord). The benefit of these structures is that there is no driving pilings into the seafloor, and no chains to drag along the bottom. As such they have minimal environmental impact (they are even used adjacent to fragile coral reefs) and provide structure that attracts mussels and other sea life.

“It’s a great system,” said Mr. Marsili, who notes that it will protect an area of the waterfront that includes not only Church Street dock but also Rockwell and State Street docks. “We’ve got to protect our investment,” he said. “This will help tremendously.”

Rockwell repairs

Boaters and boardwalk strollers have likely noticed the ongoing repairs at the Rockwell dock, which had become a bit of an obstacle course since last season, with flexing boards leaving the walking surface uneven. That’s mostly fixed now, and Mr. Contente says the Town is putting a maintenance plan in place to see that it stays that way. “At the end of every season, once the boats are mostly out, we’re going to pull floating docks and repair as needed,” he said. “We’re going to stay on top of it.”

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