NEWBURYPORT — Local town, city and state officials concerned about the area’s oceanfront jetties got good news on two fronts yesterday: a legal challenge blocking Phase 2 of the rebuilding the south jetty has been rejected and federal money for the north jetty might be available.
The Merrimack River Beach Alliance, composed of leaders from a half-dozen communities, learned that a challenge to the low bid for fortifying the south jetty has been denied, and contracts with the low bidder could be signed early next week.
Classic Site Solutions Inc. of Springfield was the lowest bidder last summer at $3.5 million.
The second low bid of $3.7 million came from CRC Company, Inc. of Quincy. CRC challenged the winning bid but officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would not say on what grounds.
Yesterday state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, co-chair of the MRBA, reported that the Corps had rejected the challenge, and that the $3.5 million proposal had been accepted.
Contracts could be signed early next week, and work could start around Thanksgiving.
“Timing is important here,” said Tarr. “Because of laws relating to (breeding habits of) nesting plovers, the work has to be finished by the end of March.”
The two massive stone jetties are located at the mouth of the Merrimack River. They were designed to funnel the primal force of the river current and to stabilize the location of the river mouth. Before the jetties existed, the location of the rivermouth shifted, sometimes dramatically.
The jetties are believed to have a significant impact on erosion on Plum Island. In recent years, some of the massive stones atop the jetties have been pushed off by storm waves, creating jagged gaps through which strong currents flow. These currents are believed to cause erosion on the island. The repairs will fill in the gaps and reinforce the jetties.
Arleigh Greene, who heads a trucking company that brings boulders to Plum Island from Seabrook, has requested that he be permitted to use larger trucks so that fewer trips are involved. In Phase 1, he used dump trucks. Now he wants to utilize tracker-trailer rigs.
He said that during Phase 1, close to 1,300 trips to the staging area at the north point of the island were required to bring in rock.
Green estimated that about 680 trips would be required for Phase 2, if he is permitted to use larger trucks.
Municipal officials in this community and in Salisbury will decide if the larger vehicles will be permitted.
The work outline in the contract with Classic Site Solutions would complete Phase 2 of the south jetty; local leaders yesterday accelerated efforts to gain federal funding for the north jetty.
Alliance members voted to send a letter to top officials of the Corps of Engineers for consideration of funds to fortify the north jetty, which they indicated was damaged in recent storms.
They said that tides are coming over the top of the north jetty, threatening commerce and recreational boating.
The letter reads, in part, “We understand that some federal funding from the special Hurricane Sandy appropriation has not been committed, and this funding may be available for projects like the north jetty that was damaged by the storm.
“... We request that you take all steps in your power to secure the $15 million needed to complete the plans and specifications and to reconstruct the North Jetty on Salisbury Beach.”
The letter was signed by Tarr and Alliance co-chair Jerry Klima, who is town moderator in Salisbury.
The south jetty is 2,445 feet long, and the north jetty stretches 4,118 feet, according to state officials.