The Herald News, Wednesday, March 1, 2017 – Page B1

By Kevin P. O’Connor
Email: koconnor@heraldnews.com

Fall River – The bids are in, and it is likely work on the City Pier can begin without putting the project underwater financially.

The city has cobbled together $3.2 million in state and federal grants to begin work on the gravel and granite pier that pokes out into the Taunton River between The Cove Restaurant and Point Gloria Condominiums.

The first work to be completed will be to drive sheet metal walls around the pier and to backfill behind them. The steel walls will support and strengthen the pier walls, which were made of large granite blocks more than a century ago.

Workers will also dig trenches and lay underground utility lines onto the pier before capping with property with gravel and soil to encapsulate the dirt under it.

A hotel was planned for the site 20 years ago, but soil tests determined that the pier was contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, a known carcinogen. It is believed the contaminated soil was brought in when Route 79 was built 50 years ago.

The new seawalls, the utility lines and the capping of the soil will make the pier ready for development by the fall of this year, according to Kenneth Fiola, executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development. FROED is organizing the renovation effort for the city’s Redevelopment Authority, which owns the pier.

“The bids were opened on Thursday for the City Pier work,” Fiola said. “We are in the process of reviewing them now.

“A couple of bids came in that were within our budget. Most of them didn’t. But we at least have two that did.”

The plans are to build a marina and a marine service center, possibly with a restaurant, on the pier. The city is also planning boat docks, including docks for transient boaters, at the pier.

Because the pier is located on reclaimed tidal land, state regulations require it be used for marine purposes, Fiola said.

Mayor Jasiel Correia II said the City Pier is a critical part of the city’s plans to rebuild its waterfront. State officials say Route 79 passing by the site will be rebuilt as a boulevard, freeing up 10 acres of land for development along the waterfront.

The city hopes to attract a hotel and restaurant for that land, Correia said.

If the low bidders are found to have fulfilled the specifications of the contract, a bid will be awarded at the March 8 meeting of the Redevelopment Authority, Fiola said.