Town officials in Warren are in the process of identifying road projects that could be funded, at least partially, by VTrans roads and structure grants; select board members voted to hire an engineer to consult with them on potential solutions for erosion issues of Fuller Hill Road at their March 8 meeting.
Select board member Matt Groom said an ad hoc committee has been formed to address various possibilities for handling runoff, silt, and paving issues on the lower 1,400 feet of Fuller Hill Road.
“What we’re trying to do now is figure out a direction and not get bogged down in the details; we’d like to hear what the engineer has to say,” Groom said.
Town officials approved a sum not to exceed $400 for a professional consultation to address drainage issues and determine whether paving is an appropriate solution.
Groom said, “We want to come up with a creative solution; we don’t want to come dictate a solution.”
The discussion follows a public hearing on an erosion control plan, potential paving and traffic calming on February 8. Residents expressed concerns about a proposed $119,259 project that includes replacing 12 15-inch driveway culverts with 18-inch culverts and installing 160 feet of 24-inch culverts in the roadway.
If approved, the project would be paid for out of the highway department budget as well as a $10,000 Better Back Roads grant. At the hearing, representatives from the Friends of the Mad River spoke in support of paving given the adverse effect of water runoff and sediment flowing into the river.
Town Administrator Cindi Hartshorn-Jones told select board members that the sooner the grant applications are submitted to VTrans, the better, in terms of project priority. Paving grants can be used anywhere in town and aren’t limited to Fuller Hill specifically, unlike structure grants that must be completed exactly as originally planned.
“What happens is, you look at the roads, figure out sections, and submit three paving grants at different sums of money; you need to decide which roads you want to do,” she said.
Select board member Bob Ackland suggested the town formulate a work plan that addresses the need for road work and repair in order of priority. Ackland presented what he called a “status of the roads report” at Town Meeting and said that the town now needs to “take the expert, who is Ray [Weston], and take the limited amount of money and put it to best use. Then we can sit here and make judgment on it.”
Groom said a plan that would direct Jones and Weston to know which grants to pursue would “help us proceed in a more direct and business-like manner.”
Ackland asked, “Are the grants driving us or are we finding grant money to do the projects we want to do? We should be doing this whether we have the grant money or not.”
On Town Meeting Day, voters in Warren approved a $375,000 article to fund the Sugarbush Access Road repaving project, consisting of paving an eight-tenths of a mile of section of road starting near Gold Hill Road and ending near Wheeler Brook.
At the March 8 meeting, Warren Department of Public Works Director Barry Simpson told town officials that Road Foreman Ray Weston wasn’t comfortable coming up with a set of specifications for the Access Road.
“We need an engineer to come up with specs to show to several pavers so everybody is on the same page,” Simpson said.