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October 11, 2012

Island being readied for jetty repairs, truck traffic

NEWBURYPORT — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has signed contracts with a marine engineering firm for work on the south jetty of the Merrimack River, and stone-carrying trucks are expected to roll in about three weeks.

Project manager Jack Karalius of the Corps told members of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance yesterday that HK & S Construction of Newport, R.I., has been vetted and approved for a $2.5 million project to fortify the jetty in an effort to control beach erosion.

The project could be more extensive than planned because the bid came in below the $3-$3.5 million the Corps had projected.

Federal officials say the south jetty is 1,400 feet long, and about 1,000 feet of that will be reworked with new stones and fortified construction.

HK & S will obtain mammoth stones in New Hampshire from land owned by operators of Seabrook Station, and will bring the rock south to create a loading zone on the public parking lot on the northernmost point of Plum Island.

No route has been chosen from Seabrook to Plum Island, and several island residents expressed concern that heavy trucks could compromise the quality of roads over the marsh and on the island itself.

Corps officials said that it is the contractor’s decision on what roads to take, but they said that heavy trucks generally avoid busy city thoroughfares with traffic lights and crossing pedestrians such as might be found on Merrimac Street and Water Street.

“The trucks will be making about a dozen round trips per day,” said Karalius, “and they will be moving eight hours a day, five days a week, through March 31.

“We have met with HK & S, and we’ve stressed the need for safety and concern for the streets and the beach. In the next couple weeks they will be bring out large mats that the trucks will pass over (sand beach) on the way to dumping stones at the jetty site.”

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