Harrington looking for $5.1M for Rings Island, Salisbury Beach

MIKE SPRINGER/Staff photo A car passes through the salt marsh Wednesday on Ferry Road in Salisbury.

SALISBURY — The town manager will be asking Town Meeting votes May 17 to OK borrowing up to $5.1 million to pay for work to control beach erosion and flooding.

The annual spring Town Meeting will take place in the Salisbury Elementary School gymnasium on Monday, May 17 at 7 p.m.

Town Manager Neil Harrington said the Town Meeting warrant will include his request borrow up to $5.1 million to complete the first phase of the Ring's Island resiliency project

"That amount will hopefully be reduced by the actual bid price of the project and up to $2 million in state grant funding that we are applying for," Harrington said. "The total cost of the project is estimated at no more than $5.1 million. At this point, we are applying for a state grant, so that should not be the total amount that Salisbury taxpayers will have to pay if the authorization is approved."

According to Harrington, the Rings Island area – and more specifically Ferry Road – faces numerous problems during significant high tides and coastal storms.

"Rings Island is effectively cut off for emergency vehicles by flooding on Ferry Road and also at the intersection of First Street and March Road," Harrington said. "Ultimately we would like to correct both situations but it is expensive. So we are proposing to correct the Ferry Road situation at this point by elevating the roadway and installing a culvert system similar to the one that we installed many years ago at the Town Creek."

A culvert system would allow the town to regulate the water flow in and out of the marsh during major storms, according to Harrington.

"This will keep the road open for emergency purposes and provide resiliency for sea level rise," he said. "This is something that we have been working on for the last few years and we are hoping that we will be able to secure this state grant of up to $2 million. Without the state grant, we won't be able to afford the whole project."

Harrington has also requested $50,000 to help pay for 150,000 to 175,000 cubic yards of sand to be dredged from the Piscataqua River in Maine and placed offshore from Salisbury Beach to help replenish the beach.

According to Harrington, the town has already set aside $150,000 for the dredging project and the state has promised to pay up to 75% of the transportation costs for the material.

"It's not very often that a large dredge project is going to yield the amount of sand that we could potentially get from the Piscataqua River," he said. "We have some money set aside and, for what is estimated to be only $50,000 in additional funding, we can get a significant amount of sand for the beach."

He said that sand dredging opportunities don't come around very often.

"This is probably a once in a decade type of occurrence," he said. "The state has agreed to pay for three-quarters of it. Anytime you can get the state to pay 75% of the cost of a project that will bring sand to the beach it is a worthwhile investment as far as I am concerned."

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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