Bristol working to shore up the shoreline

A series of public works projects are focusing on Bristol’s waterfront

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 10/11/19

Restoration work at the Prudence Island Ferry dock is well underway, the first of a series of projects focusing on reinforcing Bristol’s shoreline at a few key points.

The crumbling pier …

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Bristol working to shore up the shoreline

A series of public works projects are focusing on Bristol’s waterfront

Posted

Restoration work at the Prudence Island Ferry dock is well underway, the first of a series of projects focusing on reinforcing Bristol’s shoreline at a few key points.

The crumbling pier just south of the Rockwell Dock had become a priority, and town officials, with the assistance of Sen. Jack Reed, were able to obtain nearly $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Passenger Ferry Grant program to pay for the repairs.

Currently, workers are using a massive crane to install steel sheet pile along the north side of the pier, where holes had led to erosion of the structure. When that phase of the project is complete, crews will move to the south side of the pier, where the focus of the repairs will shift to the stone masonry. “There are not a lot of missing stones; it’s mostly refilling and repointing,” said Harbormaster Gregg Marsili.

When both sides have been reinforced, the surface will be repaved; the number of parking spaces and layout of the lot will stay the same. The total project is expected to be completed by Christmas.

Following that project, attention will shift south to Independence Park, where a substantial void has developed between the boardwalk and the seawall — enough so that public safety officials felt compelled to cordon off the line between the wooden boardwalk and the stone wall during the “Last Night” Labor Day weekend Philharmonic concert this year. “We didn’t want anyone falling in the crack,” said Town Administrator Steven Contente.

Large stones, which can be seen staged at the northern terminus of the boardwalk, will be used, as they are less likely to be washed — or thrown — into the harbor.

That project will pose an interesting engineering challenge for the contractor who ultimately gets the bid. “How do you get between the boardwalk and the wall?” asked Mr. Contente. One thought is to lift the boardwalk on end, do the work, then flip it back into place. “We’ll leave the ‘how’ up to the contractor,” said Mr. Contente. “They may have the best plan.”

The engineering firm charged with executing the project is in the process of presenting its preliminary plans to the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) for approval, which town officials anticipate will go smoothly, as it is a maintenance issue. The town will then advertise for bids over the winter, with the hope that construction will begin in the spring.

Following that project, in late 2020 or early 2021, work will commence on the seawall at Halsey Herreshoff Park, at Hope and Walley streets. The preliminary plan is to widen and reinforce the existing cement-capped stone wall, which needs to be repaired and backfilled to make it a little more durable for the long term.

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