DPW to close Smith Neck Road for causeway construction
Town officials stress: Neither the Select Board nor the town administrator have any control over the causeway construction on Gulf Road.
Town Administrator David Cressman emphasized that fact at the Select Board's meeting at June 27, but residents and business owners are fired up about the shutdown.
“This is going to kill our summer, and our next summer, and all the way up Dartmouth Street,” said chef Matt Rooney, owner of Black Bass Grill located at 3 Water Street.
Smith Neck Road will be shut down alongside the Padanaram Bridge during the Padanaram Causeway Rehabilitation project, scheduled to start on July 6.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is in charge of the $8,274,700-million project that will include roadway, drainage, structural, and lighting improvements along Gulf Road from the eastern edge of Apponagansett Park to the Padanaram Bridge, and Smith Neck Road from Gulf Road southerly 550 feet.
The construction will start on the Gulf and Smith Neck Roads intersection, said Board Chairman Stanley Mickelson. The Department of Public Works will have to shut down Smith Neck Road too, he said.
While the Select Board joked that MassDOT couldn’t send a representative to the meeting because they would’ve hit a detour, there was plenty of frustration about the project.
“We can’t put a stop sign in this town without going to the state for approval. It’s frustrating because they can’t send anybody to give us an update,” said Board member Shawn McDonald. “I know the community will rally.”
“They did the same thing to Faunce Corner Road. They came in like gangbusters,” said Mickelson. “It affects a lot of people. It’s summertime.”
Board Vice Chairman Frank Gracie said the construction throws a curveball at the town after it worked hard to revitalize Padanaram Village.
During the causeway construction, the bridge will be operational for boats and follow a normal schedule. It will, however, be closed to cars.
Drivers may notice minor changes this week, such as detour signs at the ready, but “no serious construction will begin until after the detour is in place,” after the Independence Day holiday, Judi Riley of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation told Dartmouth Week last week.
The construction project does not include work on the bridge—only the causeway. The causeway is the portion of the road with land and rocks underneath.
The project's $8.2 million cost is $2.2 million over the projected $6 million set aside in the town's budget. However, now that the town has finished engineering and permitting, MassDOT has taken over, and will fund the project with federal and state monies, town officials have said.
The forecasted project completion date is June 11, 2018. The general contractor is John Rocchio Corporation from Smithfield, Rhode Island.