Cumberland’s portion of Broad Street project scaled back

Cumberland’s portion of Broad Street project scaled back

Work no longer starting this spring; overall costs up

CUMBERLAND – The town’s portion of the pending Broad Street regeneration project will no longer include complete reconstruction of the busy roadway from Church Street north to Mendon Road.

Charles St. Martin, spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, confirmed this week that work on the one-mile Cumberland stretch will be scaled back to just paving instead of a complete reconstruction as a cost-saving measure.

“That segment is in better condition than the southern segment where the reconstruction is needed,” he said.

Complete reconstruction of the roadway further south through Valley Falls will include removing all asphalt and adjusting the gravel base to make sure it is solid before it’s paved, which makes for a longer-lasting repair, said St. Martin. There will also be some work with signal timings and striping to address congestion issues between Church Street and Chambers Street.

Bill Murray, in one of his last actions as mayor last Friday, Jan. 4, sent a letter to RIDOT saying that while he understands it’s important to shave dollars from the project to make it more affordable, he’s disappointed by the modifications. That said, Murray added, he appreciated that the all-important drainage work in Valley Falls remained intact.

Murray, in his letter, reiterated requests he made in a Dec. 20 phone call with RIDOT:

• That the northern limit of the project be Chambers Street, two streets north of Church Street.

• That the resurfacing still happen from Church Street to Mendon Road, or at least to Blackstone Street.

• And that an abundance of street trees be planted, especially along parking lots or properties with buildings set back from the sidewalk.

St. Martin said he doesn’t yet have a count on street trees, “but many new ones will be planted along the reconstructed area.”

Reconstruction of Broad Street had previously been slated for this spring. St. Martin said additional items are affecting the schedule, and it will now hopefully start by the end of the year, but possibly in early 2020. RIDOT’s quarterly report online indicated spring advertising and summer construction start, he said.

“Once we get to advertising, we’ll have a better handle on when people can expect to see work happening in the field,” he said.

St. Martin said the 3.2-mile project through Pawtucket, Central Falls and Cumberland will now cost about $2 million more than the original estimate of $11.5 million based on additional work needed to accommodate requests from the three communities.

These changes include added drainage systems along Broad Street in Cumberland, which requires relocation of underground utility ducts, and changes requested by the city of Pawtucket at the intersection of Broad Street and Exchange Street to make it safer and more friendly to pedestrians. The original scope of the project did not include that intersection, said St. Martin.

The project is going forward with the dollars provided in the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan, said St. Martin.

The $11.5 million project, coupled with what is now $2 million in additional funding, is subject to an amendment of the improvement plan this spring. Tentatively, RIDOT intends to advertise for a contractor this summer. Construction could begin later this year or early in 2020, but that schedule has not been determined, said St. Martin.

After some discussions in recent weeks about possible cutbacks to the Pawtucket portion of the Broad Street regeneration project as a means of cost savings, all local components of that part of the project are back on board, say officials in the nearby community.

The project manager has indicated that the scope of the Pawtucket portion of the three-community project will remain the same as previously discussed, said Wilder Arboleda, spokesman for Mayor Donald Grebien.

“This includes improvements to the Broad/Goff/Exchange Street intersection,” he said.

RIDOT has been meeting monthly with representatives from all three communities, who are aware of all changes and RIDOT’s plans moving forward, said St. Martin. In addition to the Pawtucket intersection work, “this important project retains the original scope which includes pavement reconstruction, stormwater drainage work, turning/parking lanes, sidewalks, streetscape amenities and shade trees.”

A new and improved Broad Street, with better drainage, safer sidewalks, street trees and other changes, is expected to help rejuvenate an underutilized corridor long targeted for redevelopment efforts.

St. Martin said he asked a project manager about a $3 million savings figure referenced by Murray in his letter. He said that number comes from discussions between RIDOT and community representatives going back about a year and represents project costs being about $3 million higher than the $11.5 million allocated in the Transportation Improvement Plan.

“After the additions (Cumberland drainage, Pawtucket intersection improvements) and other changes (paving only north of Church Street), we estimate that cost will be about $2 million higher than the original $11.5 million,” he said, cautioning that these are estimates and will be solidified when bids are received during the advertising process for hiring a construction contractor.