standing road work

WESTERLY — Forty-eight roads are being reconditioned during the first year of the three-year $15 million road bond approved by voters in November, according to the town engineer's projections.

Reconstruction had started on 47 roads and 32 of those were substantially complete as of Monday, when Town Engineer Kyle Zalaski presented an overview of the projects to the Town Council. Ten more roads are expected to be substantially completed by the end of next week. Work on Canal Street and Tom Harvey Road is expected to be completed before winter, Zalaski said.

Depending on their condition, roads on the project list received a range of treatments including milling, reclamation and grading, a new base course, and new surface coats. In some cases, new berms were added and some projects involved sidewalk and drainage work. Some of the road work was done in conjunction with water utility improvements and some in conjunction with work on gas lines by National Grid.

Councilor Caswell Cooke Jr., who has often pushed for a more complete approach to road work in the town during his years on the council praised Zalaski, Town Manager J. Mark Rooney and other town workers.

"It's pretty impressive when you look around the town at how many roads are being paved. I don't  think I ever remember, in the years that I've served, this many roads being done at once," Cooke said.

Rooney said the volume of road work could be attributed in part to cooperation from National Grid and a good business relationship with J.H. Lynch & Sons, the contractor the town is working with. Zalaski said Lynch's decision to hire local subcontractors has helped.

"They're all local contractors. They all take pride in our town and the town that they live in so they want to see good work done," Zalaski said.

The town tries to coordinate road projects with National Grid's gas main replacement schedules. If National Grid plans to dig up part of a road, the town will sometimes pay for paving the other half of the road at the same time, depending on the road's condition, Zalaski said. The approach has allowed the town to essentially extend the bond funds.

Planning and surveying for a total reconstruction of School Street, scheduled for next year, is ongoing. The project is now estimated to cost about $3 million, down from an earlier estimate of $5 million, Zalaski said.

Zalaski also asked for and received the Town Council's consensus approval to recondition 16 other roads next year. The roads had previously been envisioned for the third year of the bond projects. By getting the council's approval now, Zalaski said, the town can work with Lynch under terms of the current contract.

An additional 13 to 15 roads might be on tap for the third year of the bond, Rooney said. Rather than hire a consultant to perform pavement analysis to determine which additional roads to work on in the third year, Rooney said he instructed Zalaski to seek recommendations from police, fire and public works officials.

Officials are also considering reconditioning Atlantic Avenue in the third year of the bond for an estimated $1.25 million. The proposed work would be a short-term solution and would not address the need for additional drainage systems or sea level mitigation strategies, Zalaski said. The Town Council agreed to refer the Atlantic Avenue proposal to its public works subcommittee for consideration.

Rooney praised the town's police officers for making it possible for the town to address more roads by agreeing to changes in how traffic assignments at road projects are handled. The changes allowed the town to reduce the cost of police detail coverage for the road bond work from an estimated $3 million to $1 million during the three-year bond period, Rooney said.

"The police department's cooperation on this has saved us a great deal of money," he said.

Zalaski had an additional piece of good news. Bids are currently being solicited to replace the Boombridge Road bridge. The bridge has been closed since 2008 because of structural deficiencies. The project will be paid for with funds from Westerly, North Stonington, and the two states. About $1 million of the road bond has been reserved for part of the cost of the bridge replacement.

"This is an impressive list of work that you are doing," said Town Council President Christopher Duhamel.

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