2013-12-05 / Front Page

City to Repave Broadway

By Tom Shevlin

Traffic along Broadway is about to get smoother. A lot smoother.

After enduring months of construction, detours, and an increasing number of ruts, dips, and bumps, City Councilors were due to meet in special session on Wednesday, Dec. 4, to approve a $128,000 contract to resurface the length of Broadway from Farewell Street to Equality Park.

According to Director of Public Services Bill Riccio, the plan came into focus over the last two weeks after concerns arose over the potential dangers the road’s condition posed to motorists and plow crews over the course of the winter driving season.

“Broadway was shaping up to be a big challenge in terms of winter maintenance,” Riccio said. So, following up on a series of meetings with residents and business owners who had been concerned with the progress of the ambitious streetscape improvement project, Riccio decided to investigate whether a new surface could be applied in order to make the road more passable while work pauses for the season.

The end result was what Riccio described as too good to pass up.

“We did some legwork and we got a price from the contractor and it was a really good number,” he said.

In addition to providing relief for suspensions all across town, the work is also expected to make it easier to treat for winter driving conditions.

According to Riccio, in its current condition the city’s plows simply wouldn’t be able to hit the road with any kind of effectiveness. “It would be a nightmare,” he said. And potentially costly, as the city would be forced to use more material, more man hours, and risk the high probability of equipment damage.

D'Ambra Construction, which already has a $1.6 million contract with the city for its citywide roadway improvement program, provided councilors with an estimate to repave the street that calls for $128,000 in paving costs and another $5,000 for police details.

Second Ward Councilor Justin S. McLaughlin said that the price was well worth the end result.

"The current surface on Broadway is unacceptable for Newport's main street,” McLaughlin said in voicing his support for the work.

Initially, administration officials had estimated that the cost to repair the road would likely run closer to $200,000.

However, even that might have been money well spent, as the administration would not only be left to deal with equipment repairs, but also potential claims made against the city by motorists for damage to their cars as a result of driving over the rut-prone road.

On Thursday and Friday, Dec. 5 and 6, crews are due to raise the metal components in the roadway, such as sewer covers, utility access points, and drainage inlets as needed. After a weekend break, crews are expected to lay down a fresh coat of asphalt on Monday, with work being completed as early as Tuesday, Dec. 10.

As Riccio acknowledged, the condition of the road has been a sore point for many business owners along the street, but with water and sewer work now complete, much of the major trenching that caused the bulk of the deterioration is behind us.

“The original premise for the job was to try to immediately follow the utility work with streetscape work in the fall,” Riccio explained. However, with delays in receiving the state and federal funding that’s paying for the bulk of the project, the city was forced to delay the streetscape work – which will include a fresh road surface– until the spring. That left the administration to determine the best alternative course of action.

Much like the repaving of Lower Thames Street that took place in the run-up to the America’s Cup World Series regatta in 2012, this latest project is only intended to be temporary. However, the city is hoping that it will be one that is welcomed by motorists and business owners alike.

“This is going to make such a great improvement,” said Riccio.

Work on the Broadway streetscape improvement project is expected to begin anew in March when National Grid begins a round of gas line replacements.

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