City Council approves extras for bridge project; over Bolduc's objection, railings will be black

LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers told the City Council this week that after city and state officials reviewed the bids for the Main Street Bridge project the process of awarding the construction to R.M. Piper, Inc. of Plymouth, the low bidder, is underway.

Myers explained that the cost of construction is approximately $3.3 million, of which the state will bear 80 percent and the city 20 percent. However, since the state will contribute only to the cost of replacing the existing structure, there are three elements the city has chosen to add to the project that are not eligible for matching funds, but must be funded solely by the city.

These are the widening of the approach along Beacon Street West, overlooks or "bump outs" on either side of the bridge and decorative lighting to closely match the vintage street lights downtown. The council approved the widening early last year and it was included in the design and accounted for in the bids.

The overlooks and lighting have been discussed but not approved. Four overlooks were proposed, two on each side of the bridge, extending four feet from the deck of the bridge. They will be trapezoids, tapering in length from 14 feet to 6 feet and covering about 40 square feet. A light will be placed at each overlook. In addition, there will be lights at each of the four corners of the bridge.

The widening was estimated to add between $50,000 and $55,000, the overlooks $10,000 and the lighting $15,000 — $75,000 to $80,000 altogether — to the cost of the project. However, the bid prices were $23,500, $6,800 and $18,750 respectively for a total of $49,050.

While there was unanimous support for funding all three elements, on seeing photographs of how the bridge would look, Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) expressed strong misgivings about painting the railings on the bridge black. He reminded the council that the black railings on the Elm Street Bridge soon showed signs of wear and required a fresh coat of paint. Both Myers and Paul Moynihan, director of public works, assured the council that the black paint was a suitable finish for the railings, for which the state is bearing the cost.

Bolduc was insistent, but was the lone dissenter when the council voted to approve the three elements, along with the black railings.