NORTH ADAMS -- Almost a year after a portion of Crest Street gave way during Tropical Storm Irene, the city is preparing to put the $1.2 million project out to bid.
"It's finally ready to go," Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said Friday. "Part of the delay with this project has been that we've gone through three iterations of design. There's a complexity to the slope of the retaining wall that needs to be repaired."
Flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene washed out the section of Crest Street, near an intersection with Burnham Street, exposing a water main and damaging a culvert and a retaining wall that held up the road. The road has been closed to through traffic since the storm.
The project was included in a $2.2 million borrowing order, approved by the City Council in December, for repairs of damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene at seven sites in the city. The city will be responsible for only 25 percent of the repair costs on Crest Street, with the other 75 percent being reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Originally, we hoped to have the design and the bidding process completed and construction under way in the spring," he said. "However, Public Works Commissioner Tim Lescarbeau and the lead engineers weren't satisfied with the initial sets of designs. We needed to be sure it was done right."
While residents of Crest Street have expressed their frustration with the road remaining closed, Alcombright said the decision is purely based on safety.
"It's a public safety issue; there's a slope with a 30-degree to 40-degree incline that needs to be stabilized and a water main that is still exposed," he said. "We can't have cars driving around that."
In addition to the engineering hold up, the repairs also had to be approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the city's Conservation Commission. Both signed off on the project by the middle of July.
"During the last round of engineering, it was also discovered that an easement was needed from National Grid," the mayor said. "National Grid was notified by the engineers and we've been waiting for its legal team to grant us an easement. It's been frustrating, but it's not the entire reason this project has been held up."
While National Grid has yet to approve the easement, Alcombright said the city is moving forward with the request for proposals (RFP).
"This construction season is coming to a close. We're not in a position anymore where we can wait for it," he said. "We're going to put out the RFP and when the bids come in, move forward with the award and the start of construction. We plan to have this done this construction season."