On Thursday, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) contractors filled in sections of recently repoured concrete sidewalk with black asphalt. Aesthetically, the asphalt seemed to fly the face of specifications Tisbury had demanded for the sidewalk. Those specs triggered the earlier removal of freshly poured sidewalk with jackhammers and an excavator. This occurred because contractors didn’t pour the sidewalk with concrete of the color and texture Tisbury wanted. The sidewalks were repoured at a cost of what MassDOT said was $50,000. MassDOT said this figure was covered by the contractor. The asphalt, which is tar-black and contrasts starkly with the sidewalk concrete, is only temporary, according to MassDOT.
“The asphalt is used as a temporary treatment to keep the sidewalk open and accessible while other related and critical work is completed,” MassDOT spokesperson Judith Reardon Riley emailed. “These asphalt sections will be completed to match the other areas of the project when other work is complete and temperatures raise high enough to place concrete.”
One area of the sidewalk in front of Boch Park remains treacherous for pedestrians, with a gap and height difference between the sidewalk and the park’s cobblestones. Another section of sidewalk closer to Five Corners hasn’t been filled with concrete or asphalt, and contains debris from the demolition of the previous sidewalk.
The Times asked MassDOT what the chemical composition was of the bluish coating applied to the second sidewalk poured along Beach Road — a coating its contractors later power-washed off, along with a thin layer of concrete, in order to reveal the desired texture beneath. Reardon Riley couldn’t immediately speak to what made up the coating, but did say what its purpose was.
“The sidewalk mentioned has been replaced using the town’s specification for sidewalks,” Reardon Riley emailed. “This includes a bluish coating that is sprayed on the surface of the new concrete, which allows for the lower portions to cure faster than the top portion. This layer is then power-washed off to leave a stony/rough texture to the sidewalk.”
Storm drains from Beach Road empty into Vineyard Haven Harbor. It’s unclear how much, if any, of the sidewalk coating drained into the harbor, and if that happened, whether there were any environmental consequences.