Bristol construction projects wrapping up, facilities are opening

From seawalls to sewage, community infrastructure has remained an essential business

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 5/21/20

Some projects are noticeable, while others are behind the scenes, but as the community emerges from a pandemic-driven shutdown, there are many new upgrades in the works.

“One thing about …

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Bristol construction projects wrapping up, facilities are opening

From seawalls to sewage, community infrastructure has remained an essential business

Posted

Some projects are noticeable, while others are behind the scenes, but as the community emerges from a pandemic-driven shutdown, there are many new upgrades in the works.

“One thing about this pandemic, we are realizing what’s important: it’s getting outside, enjoying our parks, our recreational facilities and our sidewalks,” said Town Administrator Steven Contente.

Work crews from one end of town to the other have remained busy over the past two months. The Prudence Island dock is just waiting for solar lights to be installed and the lot to be striped; the Independence Park seawall repair is scheduled to wrap up at the beginning of June. Final numbers aren’t in yet, but Mr. Contente expects that the Prudence dock project came in a little over budget. “It was mostly paid for by a $1.1 million federal DOT grant,” he said. “So it was still a good deal.”

The Independence Park project is coming in on time and on budget.

Silver Creek, though a state DOT project, is on target, and with the unfortunate change of plans for the July 4 celebration, crews will be staying on site and working through the summer.

Another project Mr. Contente is excited about is an upgrade to the seawall around Walley Beach, to make it more accessible to swimmers. Though it’s still in the design phase, the plan draws inspiration from the rocky volcanic swimming holes in the Azores, where paths are constructed to make them accessible. “I think people are going to love it,” Mr. Contente said. “That’s in the works.”

Over at the Town Common, nothing’s quite ready to reopen — basketball is considered too close contact and playground equipment is surface contact — but expect big improvements when they do. New lighting at the tennis courts, basketball court, and gazebo are currently being installed.

Bill VanVoast, the on-call electrician for the Town of Bristol, says the cost savings will pay for the new equipment in just a few years, then continue to offer savings for years to come.

“We are taking down 500-watt lights and replacing them with 34-watt LED lights,” said Mr. VanVoast. “The savings will be phenomenal.”

The lights at the court will be switch operated; the ones in the gazebo will be on a timer. Will they be illuminating Concerts on the Common this year?

“We’d love that,” said Mr. Contente, “though we would need to be allowed to have at least 50 people or more to gather.”

Thanks to a federal Community Development Block Grant, several streets, including Shaw, Rock, Easterbrooks, and Congregational, will be getting new sidewalks this year, and about 20 more streets will get a new coat of pavement.

“We’re also doing a lot of infrastructure upgrades at the sewer department,” said Mr. Contente. “Compost, sewage, and chlorination projects — they are important, even though people can’t see them.”

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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.