BY DYKE HENDRICKSON STAFF WRITER
Newburyport Daily News
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Preliminary work has started on the project to rebuild the south jetty on Plum Island, and city officials are ready to inform residents on just what will be happening for the next five months.
Municipal leaders will host a meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at the Plum Island Taxpayers & Associates building on the Plum Island Turnpike in Newbury to provide details.
Workers from Hugo Key & Son, Inc., the Newport, R.I., contractor that won the contract, have started to deliver a load of wood to create “lumber mats” at the staging site in the parking lot on Plum Island Point.
The thick, lengthy wooden pieces will be put down on the beach between the staging area and the jetty to minimize disruption to the dunes.
The contractor also has erected a 7-foot-high link fence around the area that will eventually hold the boulders that will be used in the project.
“The fence is to keep visitors, especially youngsters, away from the staging site and the work that will be going on there,” said Mike Fletcher, a safety manager for HK &S, who was working the site yesterday.
“A lot of people seem to like to come down to the end of the island — I’ve seen many golden labs here to get exercise — and we are taking precautions so we don’t have accidents.”
HK & S last month was awarded the contract to refurbish the south jetty. Its bid was $2.5 million, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would enlarge the scope of the project so the final construction figure is $3.61 million.
The jetty runs about 1,400 feet from the mouth of the Merrimack River into the ocean, and Army Corps managers say that the funds will pay for fortification of at least 1,000 feet.
The project is slated to be in active mode until March 31, and because it will be going on for months, city officials sought to host the informational meeting for residents of both Newburyport and Newbury.
Municipal leaders will provide details about the construction, such as the shipment of rock and precautions to preserve the beach.
The stones to reconstruct the jetty will come from acreage in Seabrook, where heavy machinery several decades ago wrestled rock from soil to provide space to build Seabrook Station.
Trucks with large stone will be using Interstate 95 and Route 1 to reach Newburyport, then they will follow Scotland Road, Parker Street, High Street and Rolfe’s Lane/Ocean Avenue to reach the Plum Island Turnpike.
Trucks will then cross over to Plum Island and follow Northern Boulevard to the construction site entrance at the parking lot.
“Due to the close proximity of truck routes and other obstructions, the city will be closing all access to public bathrooms and the Jason Sawyer Playground for the duration of the project,” Planning Director Andy Port said in a statement.
“The city advises all residents and visitors to avoid the construction area, given the size of the stones and equipment used to complete this project.”
City officials say wave action and the movement of sand have resulted in deterioration and settling of the massive rock wall, which was last repaired several decades ago.
They say the purpose of the current project is “to restore the south jetty to its original height, and to realign and reset stones to ensure the maximum lifespan possible for the new jetty wall.”