TOWNSEND — Voters will head to the polls Tuesday for a special referendum on the establishment of a plan to fix local roads for the right price at the right time.
The town is looking for voter approval to bond for $5.1 million that would help fund its Pavement Management Program from 2019 through 2021. The program was first presented publicly during a Board of Selectmen meeting on April 18 this year. The plan lays out specific types of work to be done to numerous town streets over the next three years.
Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Memorial Hall. The question asks permission to take on debt for a limited period, outside the constraints of Proposition 2 1/2
According to the plan, developed by the BETA Group engineering firm, about 80 miles of road in town that require repair. About 32 miles of road require reclamation work, 23 miles of road have cracks that need to be sealed and 15 miles of road need to be milled and given a new overlay of riding surface. Roads the plan gives priority to include Ash Street, Maplewood Drive and Worcester Road. About four miles of road only need preventive maintenance and the remaining four-and-a-half miles can have maintenance deferred.
Work will cost about $7.6 million and the payment will be covered in two halves: $5.1 million will be covered by the debt-exclusion bond while the remaining $2.5 million will be covered by the town’s Pavement Management Fund.
According to Town Administrator James Kreidler, the $2.5 million will be funded over a period of five years starting in 2020 when the town will combine state funds under Chapter 90, $250,000 in free cash and $50,000 from excise tax revenue. For the ensuing years, the town will continue to add on Chapter 90 state funding, $250,000 in free cash and excise tax revenue from the previous year plus $50,000 every year until the total excise tax revenue equals $250,000 per year. For homes assessed at $250,000, taxes will increase quarterly by $36.95 due to the bond.
“I think us living with New England weather conditions and geology have had a hard time maintaining road conditions,” Kreidler said. “We have to put off long-term maintenance of the roads when money is tight. Like many communities, we find ourselves behind the 8-ball.”
According to the Capital Improvement Plan for the project, 2020 is estimated to be the most expensive year at $2.86 million while 2019 is estimated at $2.27 million and 2021 is expected to cost $2.55 million.
New Fitchburg Road is estimated to be the most costly, coming in at $896,953 scheduled for 2020. The other high-priced work will take place on Turnpike Road for $495,087 in 2021, Mason Road for $483,574 in 2021, Bayberry Hill Road for $468,086 in 2020 and Highland Street for $478,847 later this year.
On top of the actual maintenance performed, the town will have to perform follow-up work on the roads. This includes updating the data on the roads as improvements are completed, monitoring the costs of road work, re-assessing the town’s assets and updating the town database to reflect the improved roads.
“The roads have been neglected for so long that it’s time to do something about it,” Highway Superintendent James Smith said.
Jon Winkler: jwinkler @nashobavalleyvoice.com