This fiscal year, the state distributed fewer Chapter 90 road repair funds for many towns and Ayer, Harvard and Shirley were no exception.
According to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill in June releasing the Chapter 90 funds.
"While cities and towns had been looking forward to receiving the $300 million that was unanimously endorsed by the Legislature, the governor has said the state will release only half of the funding, citing multiple transportation priorities and the unresolved issue of additional revenue. So rather than seeing a 50 percent increase in the program over last year, municipalities will see a 25 percent decrease," the MMA reported in June.
By late September, the state had released a little bit more.
"In an Aug. 22 letter, and again at the Sept. 10 meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission, Transportation Secretary Richard Davey and Administration and Finance Secretary Glen Shor said the administration will only release $200 million in fiscal 2014," the MMA reported.
Although Massachusetts towns expected more from the state, local towns say they are making do with what they received.
Ayer Department of Public Works Superintendent Mark Wetzel said the funding allocated to Ayer was originally $205, 536, but increased to $273,808.
Ayer received $284,696 in Chapter 90 funds last year.
Harvard DPW Superintendent Richard Nota received $309,298 for fiscal 2014 and says they are able to carry out pavement surface treatments with a budget that was about the same as last year.
"Harvard would need around $500,000 annually to carry out a conventional paving program," Nota said. "We are making do with Chapter 90 funds by utilizing a number of pavement surface treatments such as bituminous fiber crack filling and bituminous concrete stone seals."
Shirley DPW Administrative Assistant Pam Callahan said that town received about the same in fiscal 2014 as it did the year before as well. Shirley received $252,643 this year and $253,303 last year, but Callahan admits, "it's never enough, but we take what we can get."
The notion of "making do" is the prescription being followed by all three towns.
"We will only pave what is in our budget," Wetzel said. "I don't budget for any additional paving unless it's associated with another project, such as a water main."
Wetzel said he is also applying for a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) grant for East Main Street, which would be in addition to Chapter 90 funding.
Harvard has decided to repair roads rather that reconstruct many of them since the funding to do so would be much higher than what was allocated.
"Since the biggest enemy of roads is moisture penetration through pavement cracks, it is very important to seal those cracks off to prevent further deterioration," Nota said. "It is much cheaper to maintain than reconstruct roads."
"The stone seals are very effective at preserving the pavement that is in place; however, many of our roads need to be reconstructed because of their poor condition," Nota said. "The town has provided one-time funding for specific roads in the past, but this funding is on a case-by-case basis."
Although the stone seals help to preserve the life of the road, they do not provide for a level surface. The longer a road goes without resurfacing, the more the surface disintegrates, he said.
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