A new contractor has been selected to repair the seawall, replace the sidewalk and repair the roadway at  Gooch’s Beach, shown here in this 2019 photo, because the Massachusetts company which was the original low bidder for the project, has concerns with the pandemic and related travel restrictions. Tammy Wells Photo

KENNEBUNK – A new company has been selected to perform sea wall work at Gooch’s Beach because of the coronavirus pandemic that has put a crimp in travel across state lines.

Town officials said Sum-So Eco Contracting of Peabody, Massachusetts, the construction company originally selected for sea wall project, set to commence in the new year, sought to withdraw its bid, citing pandemic concerns and ongoing travel restrictions.

Maine and Massachusetts have instituted restrictions on travel as COVID-19 cases surge.

Massachusetts requires those traveling to the commonwealth from Maine, including returning residents, to complete a travel form and either provide a negative test result from up to 72 hours prior to arrival or quarantine for 14 days. Maine’s rules are the same, except that a travel form is not required.

Sum-Co Eco Contacting was the low bidder for sea wall job, at $1.3 million, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency picking up 75 percent of the tab, the state emergency management agency contributing 15 percent, and the town, 10 percent, or $133,684.

The town contacted Wyman & Simpson, a Maine company based in Richmond, the second lowest bidder for the project, and reviewed the situation with them, Community Development Director and Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder told the select board on Dec, 16. Prices for steel sheet piling has increased since the bid was originally submitted, but the company said they could do the work for $1.4 million.


Bids from other construction companies for the project, submitted earlier this year, ranged from $1.7 million to $2.6 million.

Osterrieder said FEMA will pay its share of the updated cost and Sum-Co Eco-Contracting has agreed to pay the $7,467 cost differential on the town’s 10 percent contribution.

The project involves replacement of 620 feet of timber sea wall with a steel sheet pile wall, construction of 650 linear feet of sidewalk and 2,800 square yards of asphalt roadway and associated work.

The town will effectively close Beach Avenue from the Narragansett to the corner, Osterrieder said. Motorist’s would be able to park along a portion of Beach Avenue, and the beach itself will remain accessible, but the roadway won’t be open to through traffic. He said it will be open for emergency access.

The alternative to road closure would have been a narrow one-way route. Osterrieder said closing the roadway save time on the project, and about $20,000 in costs.

The select board voted to allow Sum-Co Eco Contracting to withdraw and to accept the Wyman & Simpson bid.

The project is expected to start once the contractor has received the materials, and wind down in mid-May.

Osterrieder said the town will notify the public of pending traffic disruption.

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