Road project could be biggest in town’s history

LYNDEBOROUGH – The rebuilding of a little over a mile of Mountain Road could be the largest and most expensive undertaking the town has ever considered.

Rebuilding four sections of the road between Center Road and the end of the paved portion is considered to be beyond the capability of the town highway department. According to former road agent Clayton Brown, the last substantial work on the road was "probably sometime in the 1950s."

In the meantime, the population of that section of town has grown considerably, increasing traffic. In the 1950s, it was neither a mail route nor a school bus route.

At the March Town Meeting, voters overwhelmingly approved spending $59,800 for an engineering study of the road. North Point Engineering of Pembroke was hired to do the study.

The firm’s proposal will be presented to voters in March. No figures of the eventual cost have been announced publicly.

Sections to be upgraded include the low area along Badger Pond where drainage is very poor, two short sections near the former Hunters’ Cot where there is ledge and a section near the junction with French Road. Sections of the road between those areas will be upgraded by the town department.

Mountain Road, the
second-longest road in town, is narrow and twisting, quite steep in some places and bordered by stone walls.

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Kevin Leonard, of North Point, presented an update of the engineering study to selectmen and about a dozen residents. He discussed the present conditions of the road, a geotechnical report of the subsurface and a plan on how to handle groundwater.

Residents along Mountain Road are in almost total agreement that it needs to be fixed.

Leonard said the material underlying the pavement "isn’t good base material" and will have to be replaced to at least a depth of 20 inches. Leonard’s recommendations include 10 inches of crushed gravel, 6 inches of fine crushed stone and 4 inches of pavement.

"Groundwater is the enemy," Leonard said. He proposed a system of collecting it, diverting it away from the road and installing under drains.

Resident Leo Trudeau noted the "groundwater bubbles up around the ledges" and freezes in the winter.

Leonard said the material to be removed is usually used to offset construction costs, but if the town has a use for it, it can be stockpiled. He said doing the work over two years would "probably add 10 percent to 15 percent to the cost. It would be cheaper to do it all at once."

Asked if there would be any help from the state, Selectman Chairman Fred Douglas said, "We get some for paving, and that would be used, and Kent would use block grant money for his part."

If the project is approved by voters, costs would be bonded over 10 years.

"This project is tough monetarily," Douglas said, "and we have other projects ahead of us, like redoing parts of Center Road. We have to start fixing" all of the roads.

"If we don’t do something, we will just get farther behind. The Board of Selectmen is trying to keep the tax rate down, but we have to do what we have to do."