By Tracey Brulotte
Hampton Union, July 4, 1989
The Hampton Beach sea wall construction is completed and all that is left are the finishing touches now, according to state project engineer Pete Blaisdell.
The heavy equipment for wall building was all off from the final stretch of construction area by the end of last week, and by mid to late July, workers will be out of the area completely. This date of completion is nearly one year prior to the original plan which slated completion for June of 1990. The wall was completed under state budget, also, according to Blaisdell.
Blaisdell says that it's been "nothing but compliments" regarding the presence of Cianbro Construction Company and state employees at the site. Cianbro is a Portland, Maine, based company which won the bid for the 3,900 feet of sea wall prior to the commencement of construction in March of 1988. "Residents have said nothing but good things about the men, and they've been very cooperative for us, too," Blaisdell explains with pride.
The sea wall job was originally expected by state analysis, to cost about $7 million. As a result of competitive bidding, however, low bid came in at $5,200,000 from Cianbro. They won the contract, and according to Blaisdell, knew just what to do to keep construction moving.
Blaisdell credits a mild winter and the hard work of those involved with the early completion date. With construction beginning in March of 1988 and shopping for the busy summer season at the end of June (resuming after Labor Day), the wall was about on schedule going into last winter.
But the mild winter allowed construction to continue all through the usually rough season. Workers who had expected to lose three or four weeks to snowy weather instead lost only three days to the cold.
"We stuck it out and battled the elements… I think we gained at least five hundred feet from the light winter," says Blaisdell. Without the ability to work through the winter, workers would be preparing to pull out and come back and complete the wall after Labor Day again this year.
Instead, a extension to work into the summer has been granted, so that finishing cosmetic touches can be made to the wall, sidewalk and road. Blaisdell says the extension was granted because these sorts of finishing touches do not require heavy equipment which could potentially slow up beach traffic.
The structure of the wall is 14 feet off from the shore, about four-and-one-half-feet high at sidewalk level. This level was planned so beach visitors could still view the ocean over the wall.
In order to retain the ocean view, the sidewalk was built up to seven inches higher than "usual" in some places, according to Blaisdell, which did make the task somewhat more difficult. In some areas, this additional pavement was not necessary.
Another convenience provided by the new sea wall is an additional stairway to the beach. Before construction four entryways were available in the 3,900-foot stretch of beach. Now there are five.
It is estimated that early completion of the wall saved the state of New Hampshire about $200,000, though the contractor will save considerably more than that in man hours and the eliminated need to move in and out of the site.
Blaisdell looks relaxed as he leans against the sea wall that has probably become a second home for him. He explains that they've been competing with tides a day and the sometimes fierce ocean elements. "They brought in rocks and piled them up so we could keep working during the tides. There was still water, but not much force," he says.
It's all "icing on the cake now," according to Blaisdell. Wall completed, the number of workers will diminish to about ten and some of the extra money will be used just to make it "look nice".
By the end of July however, the sea wall will be protected and workers will have cleared out of the area.
Blaisdell says he'll take some of his vacation time then, relax. By Labor Day, he says, they'll have him busy somewhere else.