On Tuesday, the second anniversary of the Great Harbor blackout of the MV Martha’s Vineyard, the Steamship Authority board convened as part of its new weekly meeting schedule and learned problems were afoot in Oak Bluffs.
SSA general manager Bob Davis said some contractors who received bid packages to repair the Oak Bluffs ferry terminal expressed concern over a time crunch.
“We’re starting to hear back from vendors who would normally be bidding on this project and what we’re hearing from them is that … between the timeframe of the delivery of the materials and the work that needs to be done, that the June 22 date becomes problematic,” Davis said.
In light of such concerns, Davis pitched a “revised construction project” for the terminal.
Under the plan, he suggested a more limited set of repairs would be executed by June 22, the standing target date for completion. These repairs would preclude tractor trailer trucks and heavy vehicles from passing through the terminal but allow for passengers, cars, and pickup trucks.
Following an examination that found it to be unsafe, the project put out to bid called for the replacement of 35 pilings and 315 linear feet of southern yellow pine caps. That work was estimated to cost $500,000.
The amended plan calls for “the minimum number” of pilings and caps to be replaced, Davis said. He pegged the number at 13. Mark Amundsen, director of marine operations, said only 24 feet of cap work would be done. Overall, he characterized the revised project as 20 percent of the original project. Both he and Davis said except for the possibility of pulling up decking again in certain areas and costs associated with the potential demobilization and remobilization of crews and equipment, completing the remainder of the piling and cap work in autumn shouldn’t inflate the overall price tag of the project.
Davis said the revised bids will be opened on Monday with the anticipation the board can vote to select a bid Tuesday.
Davis also said he spoke with Vineyard Transit Authority administrator Angie Grant in order to help channel passengers from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs. He said she saw no problem providing “bus service directly from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs to meet our boats — to bring people over to Oak Bluffs during the time that terminal is closed.”
The board did not vote on the project change.
Reached Tuesday afternoon, Oak Bluffs selectman Gail Barmakian expressed pessimism at the ferry line’s ability to follow through with the project.
“At this point in time I have little or no faith in their ability to manage the situation,” she said.
Oak Bluffs selectmen chairman Brian Packish was less diplomatic.
“They basically mismanage everything they touch,” he said. “Confidence isn’t really a word I have when I have Steamship in the same sentence.”
Packish went on to reiterate a call for Davis’s ouster.
“Eventually they’re going to hit the wall and realize they’re not going to be able to accomplish anything under Davis,” he said
This is a developing story.