As the summer of road work surges on, drivers looking to avoid Route 100 by way of Sugarbush Access Road and West Hill Road will soon encounter new—short-term—construction crews.
On Tuesday, June 18, the Warren Select Board approved a motion to fix slides in both roads this summer. "These roads have grown with the town," engineer Mark Bannon explained to the board, and as they have been asked to carry more weight and water, the downhill shoulder of sections of Sugarbush Access Road and West Hill Road have become unstable.
Already, the erosion controls on West Hill Road have come off, Bannon explained, and while the road itself appears stable, it might not stay that way for long. Sugarbush Access Road is "already showing signs of movement," Bannon explained, which will not only destabilize the road but also destroy its recently repaved surface.
To avoid wasting the money that Warren has invested in both roads, "we need to do the work," select board chair Andy Cunningham said simply. The $115,824 needed to fix the slide in West Hill Road was already included in this year's budget, "so really it's just the Access Road that's gotta come out of thin air," he said.
Luckily, Warren recently received a grant that will cover 80 percent of the cost of a roughly $137,000 Roxbury Gap Road culvert project included in this year's budget, and the money the town will save on the culvert can cover the $95,080 to repair Sugarbush Access Road.
With both roads, the slide will be solved via "soil nailing," Bannon explained, which 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 slide repair project also includes creating a drainage system for both roads, which is not required for all projects but is recommended for these in particular because "there's a lot of water that's coming through, especially on the Access Road," Bannon said.
Bannon expressed his approval for the construction method, stating that his only concern is that the drills could hit Sugarbush's "poorly mapped" snowmaking pipes, which travel under the road. "We might have to change the angle of the drilling to avoid them," Bannon said.
With a plan to find out more about the pipes, the board approved the project. "It seems like a pretty common sense approach to me," select board member Bob Ackland said, and the timeline works for the town. The projects can begin this summer and will take about four days each to complete, during which time the roads will have single-lane closures.