Mountain Road upgrade to be studied

LYNDEBOROUGH – Selectmen have chosen Northpoint Engineering LLC, of Pembroke to do an engineering study of five sections of Mountain Road. The firm’s low bid of $59,800 will cover the costs of preparing a plan for the upgrade of the road, preparing bid documents, and then putting the final plan out to bid and overseeing the construction.

A proposal will be presented to voters at Town Meeting in March.

No costs of the project have been discussed, and none can be known until the engineering study is complete and bids received, but “guesstimates” range upward from $400,000.

Selectmen said costs would have be covered by a 20-year bond.

Selectman Arnold Byam said, “The basic question is safety.”

The original plan included three sections of road, but was extended to five after further discussions with Road Agent Kent Perry.

Second longest road

At more than five miles long, Mountain Road is the second longest road in town. It is narrow as it winds over the steepest slopes in town on its way from Lyndeborough Center to North Lyndeborough and the Second N.H. Turnpike. Long sparsely settled, the road’s population, and therefore the traffic, is growing, and it is the route for both the school bus and the mail carrier.

There are several places where there is no cell phone service. During storms, it is a headache for the Highway Department. Upkeep of the road’s steep sections has been a problem for years. Deferred maintenance because of budget constraints have left it in poor condition, and it is getting worse. Several parts of the road have become a safety issue.

Mountain and New Roads are the only ways to get over the chain of mountains that divide the town.

Upgrade of the road has been under discussion for several years while a maintenance schedule for all town roads was devised.

The selectmen and Perry evaluated the road recently with the intent of coming up with a long-range plan for rebuilding and maintaining the road. Perry said there are several sections which are beyond the capabilities of his department to fix and would need expert engineering and other equipment. They advertised for companies to look at the road and come up with proposals.

On Nov. 5, two firms, Hoyle, Tanner and Associates of Manchester, and Northpoint Engineering LLC, of Pembroke, presented their proposals. Hoyle, Tanner has done other projects in town.

The proposed work was originally divided into three segments totaling about a mile of road.

Segment One is 1,800 feet near Center Road, down the steep hill to Badger Pond. Segment two is 450 feet at the highest point of the road, and Segment Three is 3,200 feet between French Road and Greenfield Road.

Perry said he and his crew can do the connecting sections.

Permits needed

The area along Badger Pond, which is a state-protected waterway and therefore requires shoreline permits, has major drainage problems, Perry said, since the whole mountain side drains toward the pond. Because of construction, road condition, and recent logging, the present drains do not accommodate the run-off. A stone wall on one side prevents any widening of the road, although the owner has said he is agreeable to working with the construction and moving the wall.

Both companies presented conceptual plans for new culverts, ditch lines and drains.

Relocating the wall and further drainage was added to the scope of work.

The pond section also contains the narrowest section of road at 15 feet, and sharp corners.

Segment Two, north of the former Hunters’ Cot site, has drainage and surface problems. There is also roadside ledge in the area, making this the second addition to the plan, and includes a guard rail.

Selectmen agreed that “while we’re there, we might as well do it all.”

Segment Three is steep, narrow, and the underlying conditions are unknown and what pavement there is, is failing.

Because of the school bus, the project would have to be done when school was not in session.