By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — With Old Man Winter wreaking havoc on Lynnfield streets, the Select Board unanimously voted to allocate more funds to the DPW’s road construction program during an April 25 meeting.
Town Administrator Rob Dolan proposed appropriating $550,000 to the road construction program as part of the fiscal year 2023 capital budget that Spring Town Meeting will be asked to approve on Monday, May 16. Town Engineer Patrick McAlpine recalled that the town spent $683,512 on road construction last year, which entailed paving a large portion of Summer Street as well as Summer Avenue, Hart Road and Juniper Road.
McAlpine said the town’s capital budget and Chapter 90 funds from the state are used to fund the road construction program. In addition to the proposed $550,000 included in the capital budget, he said the town is expected to receive $410,112 in Chapter 90 funds, $228,681 from a state grant and $93,792 in rollover funds from FY22.
“Our budget has increased by 65 percent to approximately $1,282,585 million,” said McAlpine. “With this increase in the budget, we are planning to pave 11 roads across three neighborhoods along with additional one-off roads throughout town.”
McAlpine said the 11 roads that the DPW anticipates paving this year are a portion of Chestnut Street as well as Fletcher Road, Timberhill Lane, Timberhill Terrace, October Lane, Carter Road, Grant Road, Willard Lane, Maple Street, Pine Hill Road and Knoll Road.
“We have identified a number of roads that we want to repair,” said McAlpine. “We will do everything over from soup to nuts. We will do the ramps over to make sure they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. We rip out all of the berms that are damaged, put new berms in and repave the entire road.”
McAlpine also noted that the DPW’s pothole crew “runs constantly.”
“Our DPW crew is going around and filling potholes that get reported to us and we observe on our own,” said McAlpine. “We typically start on the main roads and then move onto the side streets. If I get a call, I will go out and assess the condition of the road and determine where is the pothole. I try to help residents who are affected by remedying the situation. We can’t always pave the entire road, but we can get the DPW crew out there to fix the issue.”
McAlpine said the DPW uses an independent consultant, BETA Group, Inc., to rate the condition of the town’s streets.
“They go throughout the entire town and take pictures of the roads,” said McAlpine. “They compile and rate every single picture, and give it a final road rating number. I look through the entire report and I sort it by which roads are in the worst condition. I personally look at each road we are looking to repave to assess the quality and whether the inspection was accurate. That is how we develop a plan.”
McAlpine said the DPW coordinates road construction projects with both water districts, National Grid and drainage system inspections.
“We have to plan out our strategy roughly a year in advance,” said McAlpine. “After we pave a road, it cannot be ripped up for five years unless there is an emergency situation such as a gas leak or a water main break.”
McAlpine said the biggest issue the DPW is facing is “time constraints” because construction season lasts from May 1 through Halloween.
“We can’t go out and pave when it’s 40 or 45 degrees outside,” said McAlpine. “The main restraint is getting everything scheduled, getting the contractor in and getting the roads done. The contractor has indicated to me there shouldn’t be any issues getting the road program done this year. We ran up against the wall last year with personnel changes.”
Select Board Chairman Phil Crawford asked if the contractor, D&R Paving, could resurface an additional street or two if more funds were added to the road construction budget.
“It seems reasonable,” said McAlpine. “I talked to the contractor that we have, and he indicated that as long as the town is willing to schedule him to do more work, he can.”
Crawford proposed increasing the road construction budget from $550,000 to $650,000 by using an additional $100,000 from Free Cash.
“Everybody is aware that the roads and sidewalks in town got beat up this winter,” said Crawford.
Select Board member Joe Connell expressed his support for Crawford’s proposal.
“It’s a remarkable plan,” said Connell. “It’s extensive.”
Select Board member Dick Dalton suggested that $200,000 be added to the road construction program.
“I am in favor of the additional $100,000, but the condition of the roads is the most pressing issue in town right now,” said Dalton.
McAlpine noted that Middleton and North Reading use D&R Paving as well as Lynnfield because all three communities are part of a tri-town consortium. He said the only issue is making sure the contractor has the availability to pave the additional one or two streets.
“Eleven roads is a lot compared to what we did last year,” said McAlpine. “We know there is a lot to do in Lynnfield because the roads are not in great shape.”
Crawford expressed concerns about adding an additional $200,000 to the road construction program because it would negatively impact Free Cash.
“The $100,000 seemed like a good landing spot,” said Crawford.
In response to a question from Dalton, Town Administrator Rob Dolan said the town has taken “a pretty significant hit” to close out the snow budget that exceeded the $120,000 that was appropriated by Spring Town Meeting last June.
“Although we carried over some Free Cash to protect us for next year, that protection has literally been cut in half due to the snow budget,” said Dolan.
Dolan also recalled that Chapter 90 funds are included in the state budget, which is frequently approved by the State Legislature after the fiscal year begins on July 1.
“That creates lost time for Patrick and the contractor to plan,” said Dolan.
Dolan expressed confidence that D&R Paving will be able to resurface an additional street or two during construction season.
“The town’s contractor is the absolute best in the business,” said Dolan. “Bob Rotondi knows municipalities as opposed to a contractor who works for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. We have had discussions with him, and he can do what we need him to do. We acknowledge that the roads are not in good shape, and that is why we have put together a comprehensive plan.”
DPW Director John Tomasz agreed.
“During my first year here, we went well into the fall to try and get the paving done,” said Tomasz. “The new contractor has been excellent. We are fortunate to have him.”
After the discussion, the Select Board unanimously voted to allocate the additional $100,000 to the road construction program.