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Thames Street Review Committee Committee Report COMMITTEE PURPOSE In 2009 voters in Groton defeated a bond referendum designed to rehabilitate Thames Street. Recognizing the urgency of reconstructing the street, the Town and City met on numerous occasions to decide how to best move forward with this project. On June 8, 2010, the Town Council passed a resolution establishing a Thames Street Review Committee. The Committee was charged with • identifying why the November 2009 referendum failed; • identifying potential cost-saving measures/phasing schemes and/or alternatives for the project; and • making a recommendation on Thames Street rehabilitation for the Town Council to consider. Seeking a broad-based committee, the Town Council appointed the following members: Town Council

Councilor Deborah Monteiro Mayor James Streeter

City Council

Deputy Mayor Marian Galbraith Councilor Keith Hedrick

Thames Street Committee

Hali Keeler Robyn Hoffmann


Nancy Beckwith Carole McCarthy Mark Svencer

In addition, the committee was supported by Dennis Popp - Mayor of the City of Groton Mark Oefinger - Town Manager, Town of Groton Barbara Goodrich - City Planner, City of Groton Gary Schneider - Public Works Director, Town of Groton TimUmrysz - Highway Department, City of Groton Greg Hanover, Supervisor of Tech. Services, Town of Groton Al Chapman – Engineer, City of Groton Tony Ciriello - Milone and MacBroom Tom Sheil - Milone and MacBroom


COMMITTEE WORK The committee met frequently throughout from June 29, 2010 to October 7, 2010 to address its charges.

Charge 1 – To identify why the 2009 bond referendum failed In order to identify the reasons why the 2009 bond referendum failed, the committee undertook a survey of Groton residents. The survey was available electronically on both the City of Groton and Town of Groton websites and on paper at the Town Hall, City Municipal Building, public libraries and at City of Groton Day. The survey ran through the months of July and August. The survey asked respondents to • indicate whether or not they had voted on the 2009 bond referendum • indicate how they had voted • rate features of the Thames Street Rehabilitation Project as very important, somewhat important, or not important • identify factors which may have led to the failure of the bond referendum • suggest efforts which could be undertaken to make a potential future referendum more successful The survey received 163 responses. The results of the survey were reviewed at several meetings and became the basis of much of the committee’s deliberations. Charge 2 – To identify potential cost-saving measures/phasing schemes and/or alternatives for the project. The committee began its work on this charge by taking a walking tour along Thames Street with Milone and MacBroom consultant, Tony Ciriello. The walk was an opportunity to review the complexities that require this project to be more than a simple resurfacing. These challenges include • the poor condition of retaining walls which support the street • the numerous drainage systems that run under the road • the inconsistency in subsurface conditions. These include trolley tracks, poor subsoils, and a varied pavement section • the historical character of the street • the need to access private property in order to repair or reconstruct street features • previous road improvements • the change in residential and commercial usage and their impact on parking and sidewalk damage In addition, the consultant pointed out the features of the 2009 bond referendum which were meant to address these challenges. At subsequent meetings the committee discussed 2

• • •

the features of the 2009 bond referendum along with their associated costs, alternative solutions to road repair and reconstruction, phasing options including phasing the project by sections of the road and phasing by project elements (i.e. road reconstruction, road resurfacing, drainage, retaining walls)

In addition the committee requested that the City and Town work together to dig test pits in order for Milone and MacBroom to evaluate the condition of the road’s base. The results were used to determine the best methods to use to repair or reconstruct the road. Finally, the committee reviewed road usage. The committee looked at the primary uses of the road, residential and commercial areas, and usage issues raised by road width and parking. Charge 3 – To make a recommendation on Thames Street rehabilitation for the Town Council to consider. The committee based much of its recommendation on the results of the survey of Groton residents. The survey indicated which elements of the project were of the most importance. In response the committee worked to eliminate or diminish aspects of the project that were found to be unimportant. At the same time the committee considered and discussed cost saving measures for features of the project which the survey indicated were important. The survey also suggested actions which could be taken to educate the public on the extent and nature of the Thames Street Rehabilitation Project. Those suggestions were used to make recommendations on actions which could be undertaken to inform the public.

FINDINGS Phasing: The committee discussed the option of completing the project in phases and found that this would lead to an overall more costly project because of potential inefficiencies in construction and escalating costs overtime. • Phasing by functional system (i.e. retaining wall, drainage, etc) would not be practical because much of the work required for this project is subsurface. To work in phases would mean continually digging up the surface of the road. • Phasing by section of the road would be costly for a number of reasons. First, drainage can not be completed in sections. The cost of the project would escalate with inflation from one phase to the next.


Survey results: Survey respondents indicated several reasons why the 2009 bond referendum might have failed. In your opinion, which of the following contributed to the failure of the 2009 Bond Referendum to rehabilitate Thames Street? (Check all that apply)

Concern about access to businesses during construction Lack of information about what the project entailed Lack of information about the need for the project High cost in poor economic times (Timing) A belief that the project was more beautification than reconstruction Cost of the project Questions about whether the Town should bear the cost of a project located in the City Dissatisfaction with the design or an element of the design

Response Percent 14.6%

Response Count 22

41.1% 49% 66.9% 45.7%

62 74 101 69

55.6% 55%

84 83



Answered Question – 151 • • •

A majority of the respondents indicated that cost was a large factor in the failure of the 2009 bond referendum. A majority of the respondents indicated that a misunderstanding of the responsibility of the Town to repair roads located in the City may have contributed to the failure of the referendum Also, nearly 46% of the respondents indicated that the 2009 referendum may have failed because of a perception that it was a beautification project rather than a road reconstruction project.

As a result, the committee worked diligently to cut the cost of the project. The committee vastly reduced the surface level improvements included in the 2009 project (lighting, pavers, and landscaping). In addition, the committee sought and identified cost saving measures that could be undertaken while still maintaining a structurally sound plan for repair and reconstruction.


Survey Findings and Committee Response: Survey respondents were asked to rate the importance of various features of the rehabilitation project.

Reconstruction of retaining walls

Not Important 6.6% (10)

Somewhat Important 21.2% (32)

Very Important 72.2% (109)

Response Count 151

Committee findings: • The majority of respondents indicated that the reconstruction of retaining walls to be very important • The retaining wall located between School and Pleasant can be removed from the project. Following its collapse, this retaining wall is expected to be paid for with federal funds. • Liner forms can be restricted to the side of the wall facing the street. The side of the retaining wall facing the water could be plain cement. • The retaining wall between Baker Street and Fort Street can be constructed at a reduced price due to the City’s plans for the Costa Property. • Total savings - $765,450

Repair and/or replacement of drainage

Not Somewhat Very Important Important Important 6.6% (10) 24.5% 68.9% (37) (104)

Response Count 151

Committee findings: • The majority of respondents indicated that the repair and/or replacement of drainage to be very important • By using plastic pipes, the cost of this feature can be reduced by $113, 734

Not Important 6% (9)

Somewhat Important 21.2% (32)

Very Important 72.8% (110)

Response Count 151

Roadway reconstruction (full depth) of street Committee findings: • The majority of respondents indicated that roadway reconstruction was very important • Results of the test pits indicated that the underlying base under Thames Street differed from one end of the Street to the other. Because of this different methods could be used to repair the road • From Bridge Street to a point 300 feet of School Street, full depth reconstruction is necessary due to the underlying condition of the road. The cement underneath the road is sitting on a base of ash and clay, causing the cement to rot from the bottom up. 5

• •

From a point 300 feet north of School Street south to Fort Street the road base is of a quality that would require mill and overlay From Fort Street to Eastern Point the underlying base is inconsistent, having cement under the eastern side of the street and gravel under the western side of the street. To treat the two sides of the street differently would result in seams and cracks in the road surface which would diminish the life of the repair. This portion of the street would require partial depth reconstruction with asphalt reclamation. Total savings - $835,133

Uniform and continuous granite curbs

Not Important 37.7% (57)

Somewhat Important 36.4% (55)

Very Important 25.8% (39)

Response Count 151

Committee findings: • There was no clear majority on the question of uniform and continuous granite curbs. • Existing granite curbs between Puffins and Fort Street could remain in place • New granite curb could be used between Bridge Street and Puffins. This would be used for both continuity and for durability • Older granite curb could be reset from Fort Street headed south • From this point south the curbing would be concrete. • Total savings - $47,880.

Uniform and continuous sidewalks

Not Important 22.6% (27)

Somewhat Very Important Important 30.7% (46 51.3% (77)

Response Count 150

Committee findings: • The majority of respondents found uniform and continuous sidewalks to be very important. • The cost of concrete paver sidewalks could be reduced by limiting the use of pavers to a single paver strip along the sidewalk from Bridge Street to School Street. • The use of pavers could be limited at street radii • The sidewalk on the west side of the street would extend south only until the North Gate of Electric Boat. • Total savings - $216,204

Additional pedestrian scale lighting

Not Important 36.4% (54)


Somewhat Important 33.8% (50)

Very Important 29.7% (44)

Response Count 148

Committee findings: • There was no clear majority on the question of pedestrian scale lighting; however, the committee was sensitive to the respondents’ belief that the 2009 bond referendum may have failed because of a misperception that the earlier project contained too much streetscape design • The City will pay for pedestrian lighting adjoining the Costa Property • No additional pedestrian scale lighting would be added from Bridge Street to Puffins or from Fort Street south to Eastern Point (with the exception of the City’s placement of lights as described above • Existing black acorn-style pedestrian lights between Puffins and Fort Street would remain as is • Existing nautical design lights will be replaced with acorn-style lights. The cost of these lights will be carried by Groton Utilities and regular Highway appropriations • Total savings - $992,130

Paver/textured concrete crosswalks

Not Important 55.7% (83)

Somewhat Important 25.5% (38)

Very Important 18.8% (28)

Response Count 149

Committee findings: • The majority of respondents felt that use of pavers or textured concrete for crosswalks was not important. • The cost of crosswalks can be reduced considerably by using painted crosswalks. • Total savings - $484,824

Street trees

Not Important 49.7% (73)

Somewhat Very Important Important 33.3% 17% (25) (49)

Response Count 147

Committee findings: • A near majority of the respondents felt that street trees are not important • Street planting and planting can be reduced to only the necessary landscaping needed around new construction • Total savings - $96,942 In addition, the committee found that limiting the scope of the project would lead to the following cost savings: • • •

Utility relocation: By not extending the west sidewalk south past Electric Boat’s North Gate, six fewer utility poles would have to be moved. Total savings - $46, 020 Construction Allowances: Total savings - $256,596 Final design/Engineering Inspection Services: Total Savings - $70,000 7

Financing, Easements, Permits, Reproductions and Quality Control Testing: Total savings - $117,000

Table 1: A comparison of costs between the 2009 Bond referendum and the Thames Street Review Committee Findings. Figures include 7% Inflation and 10%  Contingency 

2009 Prelim.  Design  Estimate 

Revised  October 2010 




 $        2,230,201   $        1,395,068   $           835,133  


Traffic Signals 

 $           350,400   $            58,850    $           291,550  



 $           345,261   $           297,381   $            47,880  



 $           827,809   $           611,605   $           216,204  


Drainage: Catch Basins, Piping,  Water Quality Treatment 

 $           836,335   $           722,601   $           113,734  


Lighting, Conduit, Pole Foundations 

 $           992,130   $                     ‐  

 $           992,130  


Retaining Walls  

 $        1,603,778   $           838,327   $           765,450  


Temporary Controls for Erosion  &  Traffic  

 $           282,154   $           266,798   $            15,356  



 $           511,570   $            26,746    $           484,824  


Utility Relocation 

 $           321,320   $           275,300   $            46,020  


Trees & Plantings 

 $           116,280   $            19,338    $            96,942  


Allowances: Shoring, Pump  Groundwater, Mobilization 

 $        1,070,085   $           813,489   $           256,596  


Construction Budget    $        9,487,323   $        5,325,504   $        4,161,819  


Final Design & Construction   $           520,000   $           450,000   $            70,000   Inspection Services 


Financing, Easements, Permits,  Reproductions, and Quality Control   $           717,500   $           600,000   $           117,500   Testing 


Total Bond Cost    $ 10,725,000  

 $   6,375,504  


 $   4,349,496  


COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS 1. The Committee recommends limiting the scope of the Thames Street Rehabilitation Project by focusing on road reconstruction, necessary repair of retaining walls, drainage improvements, utility needs, curbing, and basic sidewalk improvements. 2. The Committee recommends that the Town Council and RTM move forward with a bond referendum for the Thames Street Rehabilitation Project. The total cost of the project would be $6,375,504. Table 2: The following chart shows a breakdown of the costs. Figures include 7% Inflation and 10% Contingency Thames Street Rehabilitation Project Costs 



 $        1,395,068  

Traffic Signals 

 $            58,850  


 $           297,381  


 $           611,605  

Drainage: Catch Basins, Piping, Water Quality Treatment 

 $           722,601  

Retaining Walls  

 $           838,327  

Temporary Controls for Erosion  & Traffic  

 $           266,798  


 $            26,746  

Utility Relocation 

 $           275,300  

Trees & Plantings 

 $            19,338  

Allowances: Shoring, Pump Groundwater, Mobilization 

 $           813,489   Construction Budget   $        5,325,504  

Final Design & Construction Inspection Services   $           450,000   Financing, Easements, Permits, Reproductions, and Quality Control Testing   $           600,000   Total Project Cost   $   6,375,504  

3. Based on the survey responses, the committee recommends that a concerted effort be made to educate the public on Section 40 of No. 362 of the Special Acts of 1933 which requires the Town Council to fund all Town, City, and Groton Long Point roadways. 9

4. Based on the survey responses, the committee recommends the following actions be taken to educate the public on the findings and facts which comprise the project: • • • •

take advantage of local public access media to present committee findings reach out to local community organizations, associations, and clubs prepare a media presentation which can be presented in a variety of venues make the committee available to answer questions

APPENDIX A: History of Thames Street APPENDIX B: Synopsis of Traffic Study APPENDIX C: Committee Agendas APPENDIX D: Committee Minutes APPENDIX E: Survey APPENDIX F: Survey Results APPENDIX G: Test Pit Results


Committee report final