News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, August 7, 2014
Stonington targets Oceanville Road for paving
Special town meeting likely to include salt funding request

by Rich Hewitt

The town will focus on paving sections of the Oceanville Road, but will only be able to do some sections of the road this year.

Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris and Road Foreman Elwood Cobb laid out the paving plan for the selectmen at a recent meeting. The town already has used some funds from the paving account on the repair of the sink holes on Hagen Dock. According to Billings-Pezaris, there is about $132,841 left in the paving account this year.

They’ve divided the work into different sections. The most costly section will run from Route 15 to the hill before the marsh at an estimated cost of $102,900, plus almost another $3,000 for culverts, gravel and stone.

Town crews have been working on that road to prepare it for paving, cutting brush and ditching.

The second section of the road to be paved this year will run from the end of the marsh near Daley Haley Sr.’s place to East Spruce Harbor Road. The paving will go right to where the section of road reclaimed in 2003 begins. There are no culverts needed in that section of the road. The cost for paving that section of road is estimated at $22,573.

If there are enough funds remaining in the account when the first two sections are done, the town will pave from the end of the 2003 reclaimed section just past Tootie Varisco’s place to the bridge. That section is estimated to cost $5,407.

“Roughly, this year we’re trying to get to Oceanville Bridge,” Billings-Pezaris said in an email. “Next year we would like to complete the road and go from the Oceanville Bridge to the end of the road.”

The town already has worked on portions of that section of the road, but there are still about five separate sections that need work. The estimated cost of the work is $138,000 not including the cost of the trucks, wages fuel and excavation equipment.

Town crews have been stockpiling materials needed for replacing the culverts on the first section of the road. Billings-Pezaris said crews would be working at least two days on culvert replacement and that traffic will be down to one lane during that time. Flagging crew will be on site to regulate traffic on that heavily traveled road, where motorists sometimes travel too fast for safety, she said.

Skip Eaton will do the paving, and expects to begin paving the apron first from Route 15 to the bridge.

Selectmen also discussed the town’s winter work and the need to purchase winter salt and sand for the coming winter. Billings-Pezaris noted that the long, hard winter had used up a lot of the supply, which was down to about 700 cubic yards. The town usually stocks about 3,500 cubic yards so she estimated they would need to order about 3,000 cubic yards at a cost of about $43,470. The salt/sand account has only $41,730 in it at this point and the town will also need to stockpile sand for the winter as well.

“There’s not enough there to be able to do it,” she said.

Billings-Pezaris estimated that the town will need about $60,000 to $65,000 to stock the salt and sand for the winter and will need to go to a special town meeting to allocate about $20,000 to $25,000.

Selectman Ben Barrows expressed concern about the salt and sand program, particularly about the cost, the amount of time winter crews had to spend on the roads and the impact the salt has on the environment. He asked if the town had ever considered reducing the amount of salt it uses on the town roads and Route 15, which the town plows and sands under a long-standing agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation.

“It’s better for the environment, less expensive for the town and easier for the crews,” he said.

The response from the other selectmen, the town manager and road foreman was unanimous. Any move to reduce the amount of salt on the roads would result in a raft of complaints from residents.

The selectmen expect to schedule a special town meeting in the not-too-distant future to deal with a number of different issues and will likely add the salt funding to the warrant for that meeting.