BRATTLEBORO—Despite a spate of gloomy weather, spring is springing in southern Vermont, with leaves on the trees and daffodils blooming.
Another sure sign? The Department of Public Works has started its spring paving projects, for which the Selectboard approved multiple project bids and one equipment bid at its May 7 meeting.
DPW Director Steve Barrett informed the board that this year will bring repairs to roads in the Esteyville area of town.
The department received three bids to repair the streets around the former Estey Organ Company factories, including Cherry, Cottage, Vine, and Estey, said Barrett.
Barrett recommended, and the board approved, the lowest bid of $43,621 from Bazin Brothers Trucking Inc. of Westminster.
Preparing for the project
Board member Daniel Quipp said he noticed that the DPW had started working on the Esteyville roads.
This early work concerned Quipp, who asked, what would the department have done if the board decided not to approve the bid?
Barrett and Town Manager Peter Elwell explained that it is common for the DPW to undertake smaller project tasks to prepare the area for the contractors.
Barrett added that the money for the prep work came from the Capital Fund and cost less than $10,000, the amount that Barrett and Elwell are authorized to spend without prior approval from the board.
According to Barrett, the DPW uses a tracking and database software program designed by the University of New Hampshire to inventory the town’s roads and prioritize projects.
Information entered into the system includes the number of vehicles that drive on the road and how easy it is to maneuver (or whether drivers must dodge potholes, for example).
These factors help build a maintenance schedule for the DPW, said Barrett. For some streets, the cycle is every 39 years, he said.
Barrett added, however, that an emergency repair — such as a water-main break, as happened several weeks ago on Main Street — will always go to the top of the project list.
Adapting to peak storms, one culvert at a time
This spring, the DPW will also replace a box culvert on Hinesburg Road. Barrett told the board that he had budgeted $80,000 for the project, which includes replacing the culvert, paving, and replacing a guardrail.
Six companies submitted bids. Barrett recommended the town accept the lowest bid of $58,800 by A.S. Clark and Sons of Newfane.
The DPW will undertake repaving the area and replacing the guardrail, which he anticipates will cost approximately $10,000. This will bring the project’s total cost to approximately $68,000, he said.
The good news, added Barrett, is that this project will receive funding from an Agency of Transportation Town Highway Structures Grant, which covers 90 percent of the costs.
The DPW submits its bid documents to a state system that alerts contractors to projects, with response to projects varying, he said.
Quipp asked if the new culvert will be able to handle higher water flows resulting from heavier storms caused by climate change.
Yes, Barrett said, pointing out that the process to determine the size of a new culvert includes analyzing the surrounding watershed, speaking with stream engineers, and factoring in flood events.
New dump truck coming
On Barrett’s recommendation, the board approved a $174,136 bid — the lower of two submitted — from Delurey Sales & Service of North Hoosick, N.Y., to purchase a new dump truck with warranty.
The truck will replace a 2009 vehicle, said Barrett.
While the money for the truck itself will come from the Capital Fund, Barrett said he would take $4,000 from the department’s budget to pay for an extended warranty.
Vehicles have more electronic and computerized parts that the DPW staff can’t fix in house, explained Barratt, who believes the warranty is worth it.
Barrett said most DPW vehicles have a 10-year lifespan before the cost of repairs can start to outpace the vehicles’ value.