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November 16, 2013

Jetty repairs get fast tracked

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.

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