$1 million breakwater repair in Stonington nearing end

Stonington - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to complete its $1 million Stonington Harbor east breakwater repair project next Thursday.

Corps Project Manager Michael Walsh said Friday the work, which involved the addition of 6 million pounds of stone to the damaged breakwater, would return it to the condition that it was in before Tropical Storm Irene.

"It's in pretty good shape now," he said of the 2,300 feet of breakwater that has been repaired.

The 2,900-foot-long breakwater, which protects the harbor from waves, was constructed in 1880 and was last repaired in 1958.

After it was damaged by Irene in 2011, some of the breaches were so large they could be seen from Stonington Point. Money to fix the breakwater was approved by Congress last year as part of a package of Irene disaster aid. After Superstorm Sandy last fall, more damage was done to the breakwater, and Walsh said the Corps readdressed the project to see what areas needed the most work. He said the bids for the work were lower than expected, so the Corps was able to buy more stone than first thought.

The work is being done by Blakeslee Arpaia Chapman Inc. of Branford. Walsh said the work is challenging because a crane atop a barge has to place huge boulders in places that have been damaged.

Walsh said he has been taking younger Corps engineers out to see the breakwater work because it's not a commonly done project. But with federal aid now approved for Superstorm Sandy repairs, he said it is something they will be involved in over the next year.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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