New water lines, pavement coming to Diamond Hill Road

New water lines, pavement coming to Diamond Hill Road

A section of Diamond Hill Road in Cumberland, stretching from Route 295 to Nate Whipple Highway, is set to get new water lines and repaving next year. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

CUMBERLAND – Town officials say they’ve reached an agreement with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to partner on a water line replacement and road repaving project for a lengthy stretch of Diamond Hill Road.

The 2.3 miles of roadway, from roughly Route 295 to Nate Whipple Highway, will first get new water lines to replace the old lines in the ground, said Water Supt. Chris Champi, superintendent of the Cumberland Water Department.

The town is typically responsible for repaving from curb to curb on a state road if local officials undertake a water line replacement project, but Cumberland Rep. Jim McLaughlin, Mayor Bill Murray and others negotiated a memorandum of understanding where the state has agreed to follow the Diamond Hill Road water line work with new pavement.

The savings to the town, Champi told The Valley Breeze, is between $700,000 and $800,000.

The water line and repaving project, which will happen at the same time as a separate state project to add roundabouts on Diamond Hill Road at Route 295 and reconfigure the roadway at Chapel Four Corners, will certainly present a significant inconvenience for residents next year, said Champi, but at least all of the work will be done at once.

“It’s definitely a worthwhile thing to do,” he said.

The water line replacement is scheduled to start next summer, and then repaving would happen in the fall, said Champi.

Roadwork at Chapel Four Corners is expected to begin this fall, with work on the roadabouts beginning next year.

Though Diamond Hill Road “wasn’t on my immediate list for us to change,” said Champi, the lines along the route are more than 50 years old and need to be replaced. The town will only be responsible for filling in the trenches after the lines are placed. After a settling period, the state will grind down the top layer of roadway and put new pavement down.

The water pipes from Route 295 to the U.S. Post Office on Diamond Hill were redone back in the 1990s, said Champi. That relatively new line won’t need to be replaced anytime soon.

In 2019, town officials are planning to use the money they save on the 2018 Diamond Hill Road project to replace water lines on the 1-mile stretch of Diamond Hill from the Post Office to Roland Street. (A temporary patch near the Cumberland Monastery that feels more like a speed bump to motorists will disappear when that portion is repaved.)

The estimated combined cost for both projects is $3 million, said Champi.

Rep. McLaughlin, concerned about the state of deterioration in pipes that have not been replaced since the 1950s, originally wrote a letter to DOT Director Peter Alviti requesting a meeting between state and local officials to coordinate all road projects with town needs.

“It would be a waste to resurface roads, only to have to tear them up in a few years to replace faulty sewers or water mains,” said McLaughlin in a May press release right before that meeting.

Cumberland has 35.8 miles of state roads, notes McLaughlin, and with some major infrastructure projects scheduled, “there has to be coordination” to avoid having the state pave roads only to see the town tear them up for water work.

Champi said town officials have a goal of doing $2 million a year in water main replacements. That annual investment only covers about 1.5 miles of pipe each year. Of Cumberland’s 130 miles of water line, roughly 86 miles of that is at or near its projected life expectancy, said Champi. At 1.5 miles of pipe a year, the whole project won’t be done for 57 years.

“It’s a large undertaking,” he said. “But you’ve got to start something. To completely ignore it isn’t right.”

Once the town has its new well sites up and running, Champi said, officials plan to use some of the savings from no longer having to purchase water to invest in the water lines.

Comments

Great news. If they have any extra asphalt maybe they can finish Marshall Ave . its been a mess for years.

Hopefully they do this project the right way. Look at the article about the repaving job on Rt 116 in Lincoln that is already crumbling!

Not a big deal, but seriously, who did the work on that huge bump/patch near the Monastery? I think at 30mph I almost get air on that thing in my car. Anyway, good to see RIDOT and the town coordinating this effort for the pipe replacement and repaving. Smart and efficient.

I agree with the other poster, Marshall is disgraceful. Why aren't we going after the company that repaved that? It was terrible the day they paved it.