Railing adds ‘bling’ to Boardwalk

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

In late September, Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) Resident Engineer Craig Hurd stands next to the galvanized steel railing that was stacked in the bone yard. After the Thanksgiving holiday, the contractor Wyman & Simpson Inc. gained five employees from projects that were wrapping up; and this month, the much-desired pedestrian railing is starting to stretch down the Naples Causeway. (De Busk photo)

NAPLES – The Naples Causeway has got ‘bling’ going on.

Vert-noir, which in French means green-black, galvanized steel railing will adorn the Causeway’s boardwalk in time for Christmas.

While the railing and lighting might make for amazing nighttime strolls along Long Lake during the winter, having that part of the Causeway done could ‘bring in the green’ in more ways than one.

Naples town officials and members of the Causeway Renovation Committee agree that having the pedestrian handrails in place and functioning street lights will improve the computerized image of the Causeway. A better image would assist in bringing on-board donations during the fundraising effort.

To have the railing up “would be a tremendous boost to our fundraising campaign,” CRC member Bob Neault said.

The committee hired a fundraising consultant to assist the volunteers with creating a presentation to potential donors. The town’s financial obligation for the $8.9 to $9.1 million Bay of Naples Bridge project will be $405,000; and the sooner the town can begin getting those pledges, the better.

Installation of the hand rails has begun. About 700 feet of pedestrian railing will continue from where it starts east of Sandy’s Flight Deck to the proximity of the dock of the Songo River Queen II.

The railing will stop there – until the bridge and boardwalk are completed, explained Wyman and Simpson Inc. Engineer Kim Suhr during a bi-monthly meeting with the Maine State Department of Transportation (MDOT). Wyman & Simpson is the primary contractor for the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway construction.

“You certainly don’t want to put the railing where there’s no boardwalk yet, and have orange concrete splashing all over it,” Suhr said.

Also, during the meeting on Dec. 1, Suhr asked MDOT to provide him with a letter to demonstrate the town had taken over financial responsibility for the railing and light poles that were being installed ahead of schedule.

Town officials were more than happy to assume responsibility for the opportunity to have a picture perfect idea of what those details would look like on the Causeway.

Town Manager Derik Goodine said he was pleased with how nice it was starting to look.

Then, the topic switched to the half-inch gap between railings.

“That steel is going to expand during the summer,” Suhr said.

The contractor and MDOT discussed at length the fabrication process that will be necessary to create sleeves to cover the railing where it gapped, while matching the green-black hue.

A minor mistake in ordering the material had resulted in railing covers that were circular instead of square. Therefore, some fabrication was required to accommodate the top rung of the square-shaped railing.

“Everything is fitting pretty well together,” Suhr said.

For the past several months, the town has been requesting the contractor add the hand railing to the picture, and erect the light poles.

According to MDOT Resident Engineer Craig Hurd, those materials have been on hand in the bone yard, he said. But, the extra employees have not since some people were transferred to work sites that had late autumn completion dates, he said.

Five additional employees are now working on the Causeway project, according to W&S Superintendent Jeff Simpson. He said the crew members were mostly from the Westbrook Exit 48 project.

This fall, W&S also completed contracts for the construction of New Meadows Road Bridge in Bath, and the Knickerbocker Bridge in Boothbay Harbor.

The extra employees allowed Simpson to put three people on the task of putting up the pedestrian handrails.

MDOT’s Hurd said the railing-installation job was a slow paced one; and he predicted “it would take a while” before the railing reached its destination.

“The contractor understands how this is a big profile thing,” Hurd said.

“The contractor was willing to go out of sequence,” he said.

According to the contract, the installation of the waterside railings and lighting was not in the cards until 2013.

“The state and the contractor have worked together closely with the town,” Hurd said.

“We all work together to get the best product to appease everybody,” he said.

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