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State awards Scituate $110,000 for seawall repair, river dredging

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  October 4, 2012 04:13 PM

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Scituate has received two grants from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation totaling $110,000 aimed at fixing longstanding coastal problems.

The money includes $60,000 to help with repairs to the seawall on Turner Road that collapsed during the Nor’easter on Dec. 26, 2010. The DCR will also supply $50,000 in funding to dredge a shoulder at the intersection of the North and South Rivers.

The DCR handed out seven grants this year, totaling $580,000. The agency awards the money annually as part of the $1.6 million Waterways Program, which first addresses state-owned piers and sea wall concerns.

For Scituate, both projects spoke to the very nature of what the state agency is looking to fund, DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert said.

“We try to focus on public safety issues. We see our role in assisting cities and towns with sign infrastructure issues that they have in their waterways,” he said. “We’re increasingly aware of the impact of sea-level rise and weather-cycle changes that create problems.”

State Representative Jim Cantwell, who championed for the projects with the state, agreed that both items are important and extremely necessary.

The dredging project is designed to address a dangerous condition. Sand and debris builds up like a sandbar in the waterway, causing boats to tip over when they hit it.

“Inexperienced boaters can capsize. We’ve had an average of one fatality a year at this location,” Cantwell said. “Scituate’s harbormaster, and Marshfield’s harbormaster are working together … It’s a good example of how regionalization can be successful for public interest.”

Scituate Harbormaster Mark Patterson said he applied for the grant through DCR back in April.

“It has been a long time [since it was last done]. It was dredged 8-10 years ago, but it’s just an area that’s prone to shouldering because of where it is. There s a lot of current movement, it tends to shoulder somewhat quicker than other places.”

The project is going through the preliminary work now, Patterson said. But if organizers cannot find the right weather conditions and get the project started before dredging season ends on Jan. 31, the town may have to wait until next year.

“You can start as early as July, but no one really starts until November, until boating season is over, because it’s impractical. Usually people will do it November through January,” he said.

Although the town will not do the work during busy boater season, the waterway will still be open in the few weeks the dredging takes.

For the sea wall repair, DPW Engineer Kevin Cafferty said the funding, which he applied for in June, will help with the work set to begin down on Turner Road any day now.

“It’s always helpful. Any funding we can get is without a doubt helpful. We have a lot of sea walls and we could use a lot of work,” Cafferty said.

The project is still waiting on galvanized rebar to be ready at the project site. The galvanization process takes additional time and has stretched out the project timeline.

“We don’t want to open the wall up until the steel is here and ready on site,” he said.

Although Cantwell is excited that state funding is helping to repair the breach, he said more money will be needed in the future.

“That sea wall is the canary in a coal mine for the issues of sea walls in Massachusetts,” Cantwell said. “That sea wall was rated on a B – with F being the worst, that was supposed to be fairly stable. It entered a direct hit, within hours we had water rush in, two homes burned to the ground, we had firefighters chest deep in water putting out the fires not knowing if live wires were still around. It was a dangerous scene.”

As a result, Cantwell is trying to secure funding currently available for dam protection and removal.

“We’re working really hard on it. We had a compromise and we’re still hoping to get it done in the informal session,” he said.

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