Selectmen Approve Funds for Two Road Projects; Backlog Acknowledged

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

Mass DOT highway logoFrom a Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) fund balance totaling over $2.4M, the Selectmen approved a DPW request for $1,070,000 for roadway improvements in two town center area projects: 1) Hancock Street and Hillside Avenue, Hamilton, Hunt, Nickerson, Springs and Wayte roads; and 2) Elm Street, Foster Road, Maple Street, Rodney Road and School Way. The scope of these projects includes reclaiming the existing pavement; re-grading to re-establish the road crown and curb reveal; minor drainage improvements; removal and repaving of sidewalks and driveway aprons; and installation of granite curbing where needed.

Town Engineer Adrienne St. John made the presentation and request to the Selectmen at their April 22 meeting, saying that in addition to the work outlined above, the size of the cul-de-sac at the end of Elm Street would be reduced.

“We’re going to put on our EPA stormwater hats and we’re going to reduce the size of the Elm Street circle so that we can reduce the [area of] impervious [surface],” St.  John said. “Right at the end of the cul-de-sac there is wetland.”

The envisioned Great Road Master Plan does not include the work outlined in these two projects, although some preparations for the Great Road project have been taken into account. The Hillside Avenue, Bacon Street, Great Road intersection will remain a part of the Great Road plan, but the South Road, Springs Road, Great Road intersection will be included in one of the two plans approved on April 22. Additionally, putting conduits beneath Elm Street to eventually receive underground electrical wires—part of the Great Road Master Plan—will be attempted, pending the outcome of negotiations with NStar.

[For details about the Great Road Master Plan, visit:  https://www.vhb.com/thegreatroad/ ]

As for how road project priority is determined, St. John said that every year one-third of Bedford’s roads are assessed and the analysis is added to a database. The database’s software then makes recommendations for which projects to move forward with, based on the funds that the Town has available.

“One of the scenarios that the information software program runs is a backlog,” St. John said. “Our current backlog [according to the program] is on the order of $14M. Every year that you don’t put enough money into the pavement management system, the backlog goes up. And prices go up. So it’s almost exponentially that you’re falling behind. [If we received more Chapter 90 money] we would be less behind. We’re trying to become less behind.”

St. John agreed with Selectman Rosenberg’s speculation that there is a possibility of increased Chapter 90 road funds coming from the state in the coming budget cycle. If that does transpire, projects requiring higher funding levels might be addressed, rather than an assortment of smaller projects now being considered.


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