Friday, July 30, 2010
DPW schedules summer road repair
Road maintenance may not be glamorous, but it can be an intensely interesting topic for those waiting for their street to be repaired. Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent Gary Davis knows this and is careful in not promising specific repairs until he has worked out his budget and priorities.
Flooding had an impact
“We’re behind schedule” on regular road resurfacing, Davis said. In January he agreed to cut his budget, as did other town departments. Then came spring floods, which resulted in washed-out edges of roads and culverts, postponed road repaving work, and put a dent in the department’s repair funds.
Davis is finishing up last year’s resurfacing projects on Skelton Road, North Road by the Billerica line and West Street. He is working on a long-term schedule, he said, and hesitated to predict which roads would be worked on next year until his team assesses the town’s needs.
Davis said his schedule is based on responding to current conditions, rather than on a long-term fixed schedule. In comparison, Town of Concord Engineer Bill Renault says they use a three- to four-year plan, based on a road survey by an outside consultant who evaluates the condition of each road and develops a cost-benefit value and rank. Town Administrator Tim Goddard, who worked previously in Littleton, says that Littleton has done a similar road survey and added that state Chapter 90 funds can be used to fund a consultant.
Unlike the funds for minor street repairs, which come out of the DPW’s budget, the state’s Chapter 90 funds reimburse the town for road resurfacing projects. In May, voters authorized the town to borrow $202,655 for the improvement of roads in anticipation of state Chapter 90 reimbursement. It was anticipated that Lowell, East and Cross Streets would be repaved. Davis said those projects will start after they finish last year’s projects, and, he added, funds are still being held for those projects.
Funding relatively static
Davis said that each year he determines which roads are most in need of resurfacing and submits his request for Chapter 90 funds to the town administrator. All roads which have been accepted by Town Meeting are eligible for state funding. However, Goddard said, “The state likes to see the money spent on major roadways that connect one community to another. In Carlisle you should think we could use it on almost every road.”
Although there is no cap on Chapter 90 funds, Goddard said that most communities tend to get about the same amount from year to year. Goddard said that he receives Davis’s estimate on the amount of work that can be accomplished during the construction season based on the amount of funding, and works that into the budget with the Finance Committee and the Selectmen. Goddard said that normally the planning would have already been done for next year, but they are still working on the schedule.
Repairs versus resurfacing
Most roads need simple patches to keep them going, explained Davis. A road that needs resurfacing must have at least 500 feet repaved to qualify for Chapter 90 funding. Newer roads are “good for 20 years before they need resurfacing,” he said, which include subdivision roads recently accepted as town roads.∆
© 2010 The