ATHOL – Director of Public Works Keith Newton told members of the selection committee at their meeting on Tuesday, October 19 that state officials appeared to look favorably on a proposal to use around $ 1.2 million of funding of the municipal pavement program of the Transportation Bill to repaving portions of roads. 68 and 32. Newton said the money had been targeted for work on several specific stretches of road on the two national highways, but disbursement of the money was delayed due to complications resulting from the COVID-pandemic. 19.
Due to the delay, Newton said, he decided to use Chapter 90 funds to make repairs previously identified by the state Department of Transportation. As a result, he said, he lobbied state officials for permission to use the route of the Bond Bill to make further improvements to the roads along the 68 and 32.
“I contacted Governor Baker’s office to find out if we could transfer the money that was going to be allocated to these particular segments of the road – and now that these conditions are better – can we transfer that money to the damaged areas of? the Warwick road? , Route 32, and this section 68.
Newton said the officials came from Governor Baker’s office, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and a construction and design expert from the Department of Transportation.
Seemingly intrigued by Newton’s proposal, three state officials traveled to Royalston to see firsthand the sections of road the DPW chief wants to fix. Several roads, both national and local, suffered substantial damage during heavy rains in early summer.
“I went with them for most of a three-hour visit,” Newton told the board, “and showed them all we had to offer, in terms of damage, from Warwick on foot. Road and from the intersection of Hwy 32, to the Taylor Cut – both sides, and then we drove the whole distance to South Royalston and to the Phillipston line.
He has shown officials three specific segments that he aims to complete, “and they have met very good reviews so far.”
Despite the positive response from his visitors, Newton warned his proposal had yet to receive official approval.
“They go back to Boston and ask the question, ‘Can we apply the Royalston money, based on the condition of their asphalt roads now? The group I met were very happy with what they saw, and they said they saw no reason for it.
He said his plan respects the spirit of the bond bill funding, which is to bring highways 32 and 68 at Royalston to a higher level.
“They all agreed that it would be a waste of money to work on the sections that we have already taken care of,” he said. “They want to help us and they all agreed that every part of this damage would be eligible.”
If the silver is applied to damaged sections of the pavement, it will be used for more than just resurfacing, according to Newton.
“I asked if this is money for construction or is it just an overlay? ” He continued. “They don’t want to jeopardize their stretch of 32 and 62 by allowing Warwick Road to go through 32 and do some extra damage. So they are talking about building with the pipe that is needed. I also asked about the guardrails, which are very, very expensive. They said it was all part of the repaving.
“I have no doubts that we are going to do a very good thing here and redirect this money with the blessing of the Commonwealth.”
Chris Long, a board member, wanted to know if the cost of the engineering that needs to be done before work on Highway 32 begins would also be covered.
After responding in the affirmative, Newton went on to explain that the actual work would be undertaken by contractors who have been prequalified by the state.
“It’s Mass Highway doing this,” he said. “They are the leaders in this area. So these are their contracts and as part of their purchasing they will take care of everything that will be done including engineering.
In total, Newton said, the state would make improvements to about six miles of road from the Phillipston Line to the area known as Jacob’s Ladder, at an estimated cost of around $ 200,000 per mile.
Greg Vine can be contacted at [email protected]