How to pay for road repairs

TREMONT — Roads here have been a rough subject for a number of years. Town officials are working on a plan that they hope will smooth them out.

Estimated costs for improvements on four roads most in need of work, town officials said, could total $620,000.

The town’s engineer presented selectmen with an update on roads in July, recommending a more complete inventory of where work is most urgent. That prompted board members to do some of their own legwork.

Selectman Mike Mansolilli came to the next meeting with a three-page list of roads and their needed improvements, citing several safety concerns.

“It’s dangerous and needs a lot of work,” said Mansolilli. “There’s a lot of pruning that can be done on these roads.”

The discussion led to creating a prioritized list for public works that focused on pruning, straightening and fixing signs, clearing roadside debris and repairing ditches and culverts.

At that July meeting Town Manager Chris Saunders told the board there is no section in the town’s budget specified for capital improvements.

“What I’d like to see is an agreement to reserve a specific amount each year for a capital improvement plan,” Saunders said during that meeting.

“I don’t think this is a one-year project,” said Mansolilli to Saunders and the board. “It’s a right now project.”

Saunders, who is also the road commissioner for the town, came to the Aug. 20 meeting with a list of four roads in need of the most attention. Dodge Point Road sits at the top of the list and is a focus of assessment for Saunders and an engineer this week.

Cape Road, Hodgdon Road and Dix Point Road are also part of the list.

“These roads we’ve long known were in need of improvement,” Saunders said this week. “I’d be surprised if we did more than one major project this year.”

During the Aug. 20 select board meeting, Saunders said he expected there will be $111,000 in unspent funds from the fiscal year that ended June 30, pending an audit.

The current year’s budget has $63,000 designated for the Road Improvement Program.

Even though that is $174,000 of available funds, Saunders advised against using the total amount on a big construction project. Instead, he recommended allocating some of the funds to help maintain some of the less egregious roads, to keep them from getting worse.

“I want to have a plan from year to year,” Saunders told the Islander. “I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a plan for four years from now.”

Some of the maintenance done by public works this season has been paid for with the public works budget,” he said.

“Ideally we would have that reserve account,” said Saunders referring to a capital improvement budget. “It takes awhile to build a budget that can accommodate that.”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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