Selectmen Approve Reorganized 10-year Road Plan

August 1, 2014

by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

Driving through town will soon be a smoother task as crews work to rebuild failing roads and maintain others.

Over the next ten years, all failing town roads will be reconstructed, if selectmen maintain the 10-year road program approved Monday night.

Town Engineer Robert Puff presented the updated plan to selectmen, saying of the 182 miles of roadway in town that 27 miles would be rebuilt and 44 miles maintained.

Puff said all roads identified in 2012 requiring reconstruction are now in the plan. “We have no out year capital work,” he said.

A funding plan will need to be maintained for the plan to work, and capital reconstruction completed.

Puff said the plan called for $4.615 million in 2012 with an annual 3 percent increase. He said that funding level was necessary to maintain road conditions throughout town.

“If the funding profile isn’t maintained, this plan won’t be reached,” he said.

“The best way to take care of our streets is to spend money on maintenance,” Puff said, adding reconstructing the road is extremely costly.

The plan calls for more than 75 percent of funds to be used to reconstruct roads leaving the remaining monies to be used for mill-and-overlay maintenance work.

The Road Stabilization Committee uses a Pavement Condition Index to assess road conditions. Roads rating below 61 require reconstruction.

The plan calls for parts of Main Street and North Policy Street to be reconstructed in 2015. The following year, the first half of Haverhill Road, along with Town Farm Road and South Shore Road, will be reconstructed.

In 2017, the remainder of Haverhill Road would be completed as well as other roads including Stanley Brook Drive and Northwestern Boulevard. Puff said Zion Hill Road reconstruction had been pushed until 2018.

But the plan could change over the next few years, as increased requests for roadwork by residents will become formalized.

Puff said currently residents informally ask for their roads to be moved up in the plan, and the committee reviews the request, but said he would like a formal process.

A form will now be available to residents for requests to have their streets fixed sooner. The committee will then formally review each request and decide if alterations should be made to the plan.

Industrial roads have also been added to the plan, including Northwestern Blvd., and are now being looked at in a group. Puff said the roads are of increased cost, being wider than standard roads.

Selectman Everett McBride said it was important to maintain these roads’ increased width so that large vehicles could easily use them. “I would urge that we keep them the same,” McBride said.

Puff said a majority of work over the next three years will be on heavily traveled roads, but in 2018 emphasis will be placed on reconstructing neighborhood streets.

“At that point, the program takes a significant turn and we’re in the neighborhoods almost exclusively,” he said. “If you are on a road that needs to be reconstructed, we will be getting to you in this 10-year plan.”

Puff said aggressive maintenance of Route 28 will deter major reconstruction costs, allowing the plan to continue.

The board unanimously approved the plan, which will require voter approval in March.