Padanaram bridge and causeway construction put on hold

May 16, 2016

Dartmouth residents concerned that construction on the bridge and causeway may cause traffic problems this summer can rest assured.

The Padanaram bridge and causeway rehabilitation, originally slated for early spring, have been pushed to an as-of-now unknown date. The project seeks to make roadway, drainage, structural, and lighting improvements along Gulf Road from the eastern edge of Apponagansett Park to the Padanaram Bridge and Smith Neck Road.

Problems for the project began in late March when the cheapest bid for the causeway repair project came in at $2.2 million over budget. The bids ranged from $8.2 million to $12.6 million.

The causeway construction is currently paused while Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) identifies additional funding sources as part of their evaluation on why the bids were so far out of budget, said Department of Public Works Director David Hickox. MassDOT’s findings may cause changes for how the project is handled, Hickox said.

The biggest reason that the bids came out so much higher than the projected $6 million is because it is a difficult project with “a lot of work [that] is tide-dependent,” Hickox said.

He added that though MassDOT was able to give more funding to the project by allocating funds from other projects that were delayed or overfunded, it has delayed awarding the causeway project until a number of the environmental permits have been reviewed and revised, Hickox said.

Causeway repairs include replacing missing stones that support the centerpier, cleaning and grouting, and pining stones. The repairs would span 500 feet on Smith Neck Road and from the Apponagansett landing to the bridge.

The bridge repairs are completely on hold now as the town attempts to find more funding before putting the project out to bid. Difficulties would also face bridge construction, as the bridge must always remain open to let boaters pass safely and without impediment, Hickox said.

“The goal was to do repairs to causeway while bridge was down to limit inconvenience,” he said.

There is currently about $550,000 to fund bridge repairs, Hickox said. Federal money in the amount of $342,000 was left over from repairs made to the Little River Bridge and is earmarked for the bridge, Hickox said. However, there’s a possibility the federal government may allocate those funds to the causeway instead of the bridge repairs, leaving the bridge only partially-funded.

MassDOT has indicated that it wants to award the bridge project but the town has not received a definitive date, Hickox said.