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Too late to pave, town considers grinding road to Steele Hill

September 08, 2010
SANBORNTON — Steele Hill Resort owner Bill Cutillo was back before the Board of Selectmen Wednesday to discuss the plans to reconstruct Upper Bay Road from Collieson Road to Steele Hill Road. Cutillo said the "clock was ticking" and he estimated eight to 10 weeks now remain for paving to be done this year, as approved by voters at Town Meeting in May.

"The point is that road's got to get fixed. I cannot go through another winter like this," Cutillo said.

Selectmen informed him the major delay in the project was getting approval for the engineering firm Hoyle, Tanner & Associates to perform the work. Since the Department of Transportation ultimately pays half of the expense, they have to approve all work to be done as well as who does the work. That approval just arrived, Chairman David Nickerson said, and Steve Goddard from the company had brought the contract to be signed that evening.

He said once the contract was signed, Hoyle, Tanner could begin work on surveying, boring and other tests to determine what permits will be necessary. Nickerson agreed it was doubtful paving would take place this winter but there was nothing the town could do to speed things up.

"There's a process involved. If you want to dance with DOT, you have to play the music," Nickerson said.

Town Administrator Robert Veloski acknowledged he had placed calls at least once a week to DOT in an effort to move the process along sooner. They had hoped to receive approval for the engineer by the beginning of August, but that did not happen.

Cutillo said he is in danger of losing a large amount of his business if the road isn't in better shape this winter. Many customers, most from urban areas to the south, complained about road conditions last winter and said they would not be back. As a result of those complaints, Cutillo said he worked hard in convincing the town's voters to pass a bond for reconstruction of the road this past May. He has assured his guests the problem would be corrected this year.

"Can we at least put a top coat on the road? Some kind of a temporary band-aid for the problem?" he asked.

Nickerson told him a top coat would cost $30,000 to 40,000, and Goddard said money spent outside the contract would most likely not be reimbursed by the state.

Cutillo offered to pay half the expense of a top coat if the town would pay the other half and was upset when he was told the town did not have the money in the budget.

"I don't have $15,000 in my budget either but I'm going to go home and try to find it," Cutillo said.

Goddard suggested rather than paving the road only to ultimately tear it up again to repair drainage and other issues causing the frost heaves, the town might consider grinding the road and leaving it as a gravel road through the winter. He calculated it to be $21,000 to grind the road versus $30-60,000 to put 1-2 inches of asphalt down temporarily. Since the road needs to be ground down anyway for the reconstruction, it could very well be covered under the contract.

"We can wrinkle that in as part of the early work on this project," Goddard said.

Nickerson said crews from Pike Industries would be grinding the surface on nearby Woodman Road and he would investigate the feasibility of having them perform the same work on Upper Bay Road when they were done.

While that may make for muddy conditions at times, Police Chief Steve Hankard said the town road crews did an excellent job maintaining dirt roads in the town last winter and spring and he agreed it would make the road more drivable than the current conditions.

Cutillo conceded that grinding would be an acceptable option, "so long as my guests can see progress." He said he would even be willing to pay half the grinding costs if the state would not agree to it.

"This is your Plan B at least. Sooner or later it has to be done anyway. Just let me know if they won't pay for it," he said.

No permits for grinding would be necessary, but selectmen were advised by Goddard to inform the state of the plan and seek their approval before having the work done.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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