Falmouth council OKs stop-gap paving for Gray Road

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FALMOUTH — The Town Council Monday approved spending $30,000 from undesignated funds to apply a temporary layer of pavement on one of the most badly worn sections of Gray Road.

The goal is to get through the winter until a long-planned $10.5 million infrastructure improvement project can get underway in the spring.

The conditions on Gray Road, or Route 100, have continued to deteriorate since voters approved a borrowing measure in 2016 that’s designed to significantly upgrade the roadway, including the addition of turning lanes, sidewalks, streetlights and more.

There are several reasons for the delay on the road project, including the need to acquire various easements from private property owners. But meanwhile, the section of Route 100 between Mill Road and Marston Street, in particular, is “in very poor condition,” according to Public Works Director Jay Reynolds.

In a memo provided to the council prior to Monday’s meeting, Reynolds said “Normally, I would not recommend expending money in advance of a reconstruction project. In this case, however, this segment of road has the worst roadway conditions in the town.”

Town Manager Nathan Poore first pitched the idea for placing a thin coat of new pavement on the road last month when the council discussed the status of the Route 100 project and the proposed timeline for construction to start.

In information provided to the council this week, Poore said, “Last winter, the town received numerous complaints about the condition of the road. Town resources were spent on attempting to maintain the road as best as possible and the town also received two insurance claims for motor vehicle damages caused by potholes.”

At a recent public forum on the Route 100 project, residents showed some support for spending a limited amount of town funds on the paving project, and Monday the expenditure received unanimous approval from councilors who were present.

Poore said the overlay would make the segment of road “safer for travel and easier and less expensive to maintain over the winter.”

The hope is for the Route 100 infrastructure project to go out to bid next month, but in his memo Reynolds said even if that happens, the earliest work could begin would be in spring 2019 and if the bids are unfavorable, it could be another year or more before construction begins.

Even though the town believes the maintenance paving would only be needed for the short term, Reynolds said given the “uncertainty of the construction/bidding climate, Gray Road (could) remain in its current condition for longer.”

He said the pavement overlay is badly needed because he expects this winter to “be (even) more problematic than last winter,” adding that in “my professional opinion … some level of maintenance and investment needs to be made.”

Reynolds said there would be numerous benefits to the interim paving, including making Route 100 safer by “providing a more serviceable roadway,” minimizing the town’s liability for potential insurance claims and making it “more manageable and less expensive to maintain.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Jay Reynolds, Falmouth’s director of public works, said the section of Route 100 between Mill Road and Marston Street “has the worst roadway conditions in the town.”