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Location of Sugarbush’s snowmaking pipes impedes access road work

Construction crews will begin fixing the slide in Sugarbush Access Road later this summer via soil nailing, a process that involves driving 20-foot-long tubes underneath the road in a grid formation to create a board on which the road will sit.

The grid can be installed with a long-arm excavator from the road and therefore does not require digging it up or harming its surface. The only problem is neither the town of Warren nor Sugarbush Resort can pinpoint—within a couple of feet—the location of the resort's snowmaking pipes, which travel underneath the road.

The board is under the impression that when the snowmaking pipes were installed, the engineer failed to provide an as-built survey indicating their location. It's standard procedure and "I'm literally shocked that it wasn't done," Warren Select Board member Bob Ackland said at the board's meeting on Tuesday, July 23.

According to Sugarbush spokesperson Candice White, Sugarbush does have as-built surveys of the snowmaking pipes, but the reference points for the location of the pipes were the edges of the road and when the road was repaved by the town (over the last two years) the edges of the road moved.

"The exact location of the snowmaking pipes is not as clear as it used to be because the reference points were moved," White said when queried after the meeting.

If construction crews were to puncture one of the pipes during the soil nailing process, the result would be "catastrophic," select board member Anson Montgomery said, and on Tuesday the board agreed to draft a letter to Sugarbush letting them know they won't be held responsible for any damage if that were to happen.

At this stage, the town is unsure about not only the location but also the number of pipes underneath the road. Warren public works director Barry Simpson and Sugarbush snowmaking supervisor Paul Bedard recall the installation of only one pipe, but underground locators have indicated that there are two.

According to Simpson, the best way to determine the number and location of the pipes now would be to dig up a section of the ground off of the road, which would also require digging up some of the pavement. "It's not a good procedure, because the section would inevitably settle," Simpson said, and the town would have to refill it.

To avoid wasting money that Warren has previously invested in Sugarbush Access Road, the slide needs to be fixed, the select board agreed at the June 18 meeting in which they approved the $95,080 project. The town will pay for fixing the slide with money it had set aside to replace a culvert on Roxbury Gap Road, as it recently found out it received a grant that will cover 80 percent of the culvert replacement.

As for the soiling nailing process itself, "It seems like a pretty common sense approach to me," Ackland said back in June, but the poorly mapped pipes have already caused complications.

 

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