DPW Begins Clean Up In Aftermath Of Hurricane Sandy

With several roads, bridges and beaches compromised by the force of Hurricane Sandy on Monday, the Department of Public Works has moved quickly to address the damage in the storm’s aftermath.

That damage included the seawall at Menauhant Road in East Falmouth; a section of the sidewalk on Grand Avenue in Falmouth Heights; 800 feet of Surf Drive near Mill Road; the Eel Pond Bridge; and a portion of the Shining Sea Bikeway adjacent to Trunk River.

Work is already underway to repair some of these areas, while construction plans are being designed for others.

Department of Public Works Director Raymond A. Jack said his department could not delay moving forward on these projects to determine how they would be funded. “Roads like Surf Drive and Menauhant Road are critical to our infrastructure and we can’t wait on that,” he said on Wednesday. “We are moving ahead to get them repaired.”

The Menauhant Road seawall, where three concrete blocks were dislodged and sidewalk panels were uprooted, was the first to get fixed, starting on Wednesday.

The wall had been impacted last year by Tropical Storm Irene so it was not entirely unexpected that there was a breach caused by this storm. “It didn’t surprise me,” Mr. Jack said. “It wasn’t significant damage. Only several of the blocks were disturbed and it didn’t move too far. The concrete ledge and foundation they sit upon and which was reconstructed after Hurricane Bob is still in tact.”

That work was done by Northern Construction of Palmer, the same company handling the repairs to the Chapoquoit Road seawall.

Mr. McConarty estimated the cost of the fix to Menauhant Road in the $25,000 range and was already funded at Town Meeting in November 2011.

Falmouth Heights Bluff Compromised

To tell you the truth, the damage was relatively minimal. We really could have got hit hard. Still I think Falmouth got hit the hardest on the Cape, especially on the south-facing beaches.

                                           Peter McConarty 

Along that same stretch of road, after it turns into Grand Avenue in Falmouth Heights, an old seawall at the water’s edge failed, leading a portion of the sidewalk to cave in. “There were a number of breaches and it created an erosion of sand behind the seawall,” Mr. Jack said. “By removing the sand it caused the stones to drop and when the stone dropped it caused that bluff to slide down. Now there is a danger to the road.”

Because of the complexity of that area — the road is roughly 70 feet above the stone base — Mr. Jack said the town is in the midst of an assessment to determine how best to repair the seawall. Most likely, he said, the fix would require rebuilding the base, starting with the placement of stones at the bottom. Additionally, he said, a fabric may be placed to act as a barrier to prevent erosion.

Northern Construction is also handling the preliminary plans for this project, which Mr. McConarty said could cost as much as $250,000.

Hurricane Sandy also impacted an 800-foot section of Surf Drive, from Elm Road to Mill Road, that will be repaired tomorrow. “A whole section of the roadway buckled and there are a lot of cracks and lost edges of asphalt,” Mr. McConarty said.

Fortunately, Mr. Jack said, the damage was only surface-related. He estimates the repair, which will include milling and repaving, will take three days at most.

The cost of that work, Mr. McConarty said, will be in the $75,000 to $90,000 range. While no funding source has been identified, Mr. McConarty said, his hope was to have the state cover the expenses through its Chapter 90 program.

Eel Pond Bridge Damaged

Due to the high storm surge of Hurricane Sandy, the basement of the bridge tender’s shed of the Eel Pond Bridge was flooded, which is where the motors and electrical components are located. That water was pumped out on Tuesday, Mr. Jack said, and the power to the bridge turned off.

He said the damage to the bridge is not under warranty and while there is a possibility the town could submit an insurance claim “it is not likely it would be paid. We generally carry a high deductible in the $5,000 range and the motor costs that much, or a little more.”

Because the bridge has been closed since the storm, the town will open it manually today at 1 PM and leave it open for roughly an hour depending on boat traffic. Additional bridge openings may be scheduled after that point, he said, if necessary.

Mr. Jack anticipated the bridge repair would take place within the next week.

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Of all the areas impacted, both men said the damage to the Shining Sea Bikeway was relatively minor. “The other ones will cost a little more to fix,” Mr. Jack said.

As to when the bike path will be fixed, Mr. McConarty was unsure. He said his crew drove down it in a golf cart to assess the damage and see which portions need to be repaired.

The final area of concern was Menauhant Beach where a dune, placed several years ago during the nourishment project, is now gone. “At present it is not a major issue, but it appears to be one in the foreseeable future,” Mr. Jack said. “Without that barrier a storm, it doesn’t have to be a hurricane or a nor’easter, could theoretically take out that road.”

In assessing the overall impact of Hurricane Sandy on Falmouth, Mr. Jack said, “relative to what it could have been, we fared very well.”

“To tell you the truth, the damage was relatively minimal. We really could have got hit hard,” Mr. McConarty said in agreement. “Still I think Falmouth got hit the hardest on the Cape, especially on the south-facing beaches.”

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