Cement mix-up

New Beach Road sidewalks ripped up; contractor used the wrong mix.


Updated 8 pm

The sound of jackhammers filled the morning air on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven Monday morning as newly poured sidewalks were being ripped up and discarded. A large excavator picked up pieces of sidewalk and dumped them into waiting dump trucks.

A contractor at the scene said the town wanted a different finish on the sidewalks. “It happens,” he said.

Tisbury town administrator Jay Grande confirmed that the sidewalks were not done to specifications. “MassDOT informed me that the contractor will remove the sidewalk and do it again, since they did not finish the recent concrete sidewalks correctly,” he wrote in an email. “The town’s specification was put into the Contract Special Provisions for the project.”

Later, Kirk Metell, the town’s DPW director, wrote to say the sidewalks were intended to match the sidewalks on Center Street and Norton Avenue, which are 1½ inch exposed aggregate concrete mix. Those sidewalks show pebbles in the concrete and are darker. Metell described the tint as a “much more natural product.”

The recipe for the town mixture includes 1½-inch native stone, Goodales native sand, and ⅜-inch native stone, among other ingredients, according to Metell.

In an email to The Times, Judith Reardon Riley said the contractor will absorb the cost of the change. “The sidewalk was installed using MassDOT standards, in regard to finishing specifications and materials,” she wrote. “Working with the town of Tisbury, during the design phases, it was agreed to construct the sidewalk using town of Tisbury specifications. The cost of the sidewalk removal and replacement, which is approximately $4,000, is the responsibility of the contractor, and will be addressed through a corrective action.”

When The Times questioned that amount, Reardon Riley responded by email saying that an error had been made. “The contract price for the sidewalk is approximately $50,000 and includes removal of the old sidewalk and installation of the final permanent sidewalk,” she wrote. “This cost will be borne by the contractor, not by the commonwealth.”

The ongoing project has made getting to and from the Island’s only year-round ferry terminal a challenge.

Updated with a correction by MassDOT on the price of the replacement sidewalk. -Ed.


  1. Can “someone” please open up the lines of communication? This is getting ridiculous and the year round businesses on Beach Rd seem to be the only ones suffering the incompetence of people in charge. It’s getting old, fast.

  2. I’m no rocket scientist – but if you have specific design requirements for a project, isn’t it a good idea to have someone on site to inspect and oversee the installation process – WHILE ITS GOING ON?!

    • Yes, John, and that person is called, among other things, a Project Manager. Is there a Project Manager on site with this project, or just someone who gives a cursory glance now and then to report the status of the project?

  3. That $4,000 could have gone a long way to satisfying the next lawsuit filed in Tisbury, against the actions of the Tisbury Police. Better to start a reserve fund for those expenses now, because if there are two certain things in life, they are death and TPD lawsuits.

  4. Ok– I am not going to get into the obvious stupidity and blaming– others will do that.
    I’m a basic math guy.. If I just say what I figured out here, no one will believe it.
    So, send the kids off to bed and I will bore you to sleep with some math.
    If anyone has any question as to where my numbers come from, I can post verifiable facts. Bad enough to bore you with the math.. I will not use the word “about”— everything is “about”

    This sidewalk was 750 ft long and 4 ft wide= 3,000 sq ft.
    4 inches deep = 1,000 cubic feet = 37 cubic yards.
    A cubic yard of cement weighs 2 tons = 74 tons
    Mining, cooking, processing , transporting etc. one ton of cement produces 1.25 tons of carbon emissions = 93 tons of carbon emissions = 185,185 pounds of carbon emissions.
    To put that in perspective:
    The average passenger car in the U.S emits .9 pounds of carbon per mile.

    Now, I, and I think most people really wouldn’t care if there were little stones scattered throughout the surface of the cement. Yeah, it might look nice, and fine to have it in the specs– It seems the contractor made a mistake.
    But somewhere along the line, whoever wrote that specification had an ego that was injured.
    Somewhere along the line, managers of this project lost their minds about what “get over it” means. There could have been financial compensation for the bruised ego, but NOOOOO, it “had” to be replaced.
    I could really care less about who got it wrong and who blames who or who pays for it.
    What I care about is that these people with one irrational decision, decided to put the equivalent of an average car driving over 200,000 miles worth of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, rather than not see little rocks in the sidewalk.
    That’s disgusting –Just disgusting– why does every person who tries to reduce their carbon footprint by lowering their heat or raising their a/c not view this as a slap in the face from hypocritical “leaders” ?
    One stupid decision and all the carbon saved by the town’s touchy feely “aren’t we so “green” electric vehicles is out the window for the next ten years.
    It’s really enough to make ME want to give up.

  5. Who is in chrarge? Is there another paid vacation like the person in O.B. in charge of keeping track of checked out rifles?

  6. Does anybody really believe that the removal of perfectly good, granted, not what the town wanted ,sidewalks was achieved at a cost of only $4,000.00 ? I counted at least ten workers and numerous pieces of heavy equipment .

  7. To say ‘the contractor will absorb the cost’ is insulting to anybody who cares about the health of our planet. Cement is one of the global economy’s most carbon-polluting industries! Responsible for about 8% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2015, if it were ranked with individual countries, the cement industry would be the third-largest greenhouse-gas emitter in the world behind only China and the United States. But hey let’s tear up a brand new sidewalk and pour a new one so it looks a certain way.

  8. Kirk Metell Why wasn’t somebody on site to observe the original installation of this project? This screwup belongs to the DPW.

  9. Too late now, but what a waste. When one has a person who uses an electric wheelchair in their family, the smoother sidewalks are better anyway.

  10. It appears the Town standard is for a coarse rough surface while the State standard is smoother. Has anyone recently checked with elderly and disabled who might use walkers and wheel chairs or are prone to stumble which surface is better for them to navigate?

  11. Yes, Bruce Stone, smooth sidewalks are much better for people who use electric wheelchairs Smooth sidewalks are also better for those who can not see well, those who use canes, walkers, etc. Smooth sidewalks are also easier for snow and ice removal. In some towns, for the “quaint” look, we see brick sidewalks, which are even worse than sidewalks that show the pebbles. Tisbury must value the quaint look over the comfort and safety of all. Quaint pleases tourists who are here to spend money.

    These sidewalks are described as being ADA compliant.

  12. Am I the only one that noticed there was no wire mesh or rebar sticking out of the broken up concrete that was just poured? I didn’t see any prior to pouring either. Im sure the state or VH wouldn’t approve using fiber mesh as a substitute. Just say’n
    Look at photo 5 of 8

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