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LYNDEBOROUGH – The cost to totally rebuild four sections of Mountain Road, totaling more than a mile, is estimated at $1,667,354, and selectmen are proposing a bond in that amount. A hearing on the plan was held Feb. 10. About 15 people attended, most of them residents of the road. The plan will be on the warrant for Town Meeting on March 12.
A two-thirds vote is required for passage. The work, which would be done this summer, includes drainage, ditches and culverts, widening and guard rails where needed, and rebuilding and paving the entire length of the road from Center Road to the end of the existing pavement. During construction, traffic would be detoured to Crooked S Road. Selectman Lee Mayhew said they were putting the whole project on the warrant "so that people can discuss it all." They have held four meetings with residents of the road to be sure everyone had their questions answered. Because there are no other routes over the mountain for a school bus, work must be done while school is in recess.
Engineer Kevin Leonard, of North Point Engineering, who oversaw the study of the road during the past year, said the current road base "is not suitable for a road," and contains large rocks. Those rocks are causing bumps and pothole problems. Inadequate drainage adds to the problem. Selectmen are proposing a 15-year bond for the project. Funds would come from a state block grant, the paving fund and the town’s Capital Reserve Plan, making the first year’s payment $168,060. The impact on the tax rate would be 33 cents per $1,000 valuation, or about $66 for a $200,000 home.
The four sections to be done are: ? Section A: from Mason Road to Badger Pond, about 1,822 feet. ? Section B: the area known as "The Ledges" near Hunter’s Cot. ? Section C: 475 feet between 444 and 462 Mountain Road. ? Section D: the "back side of the mountain," extending about 3,232 from French Road to the end of the existing pavement. The remainder of the road to the Second New Hampshire Turnpike is gravel. The areas between these sections will be reconstructed by the town’s Highway Department.
Asked why the town crew can’t do it all, selectmen said road agent Kent Perry determined that the work has been put off so long and has deteriorated so badly, he has neither the equipment nor the expertise to do the work. In addition, the size of the project is such that it couldn’t be completed during the summer. According to former road agent Clayton Brown, the last major work on the road was done in 1962. It was last paved in 1996. Long a sparsely settled area of town, it is now the fastest-growing area.
While there are other options, such as doing one section at a time over several years, selectmen said that would cost more than doing the whole project at once. Now is the time, they said, "while oil, and therefore asphalt, prices are low." Resident Wally Holt asked about "salt contamination of Badger Pond" and the growth of weeds. Selectman Fred Douglas said, "There is a problem there." The water is tested regularly by the state, and the Highway Department uses limited salt in the area. Leonard said they are working with various state agencies, such as the Wetlands Bureau, on the problem, putting in proper drainage to alleviate the problem of runoff from neighboring hay fields. Longtime Mountain Road resident Leo Trudeau expressed the feeling of many: "The condition of the roads presents a worst-case scenario.
We’re going to find everything bad and build good." The selectmen, he said, "have addressed the problem very well. I tip my hat" to everyone involved. Several residents asked about work being postponed on other roads, and whether that would cause more problems – for instance, the statemaintained section of Center Road, from Route 31 to Lyndeborough Center, which is in need of work. Douglas said they have discussed that problem with the state, it is in their plan and that the town’s "paving plan is on track."