EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 13, 2014

Windham using state program to acquire salt truck fleet

WINDHAM — Some town residents will see snow today and dream of ski trails or warm beaches.

But Selectman Roger Hohenberger, judging by his enthusiasm expressed at last week’s town deliberative session, will meditate upon the deal that is the town’s salt trucks.

“They are really cool looking,” Hohenberger told voters.

But it’s not just that they look cool.

Hohenberger delights in the cool cash savings to the town in building the fleet.

He related how officials used to go to Concord to buy surplus used state Department of Transportation trucks.

But that was before the Interstate 93 widening.

As part of the highway project’s environmental approvals, state transportation officials had to agree to contain road salt use.

A program of federal grants administered by the state enabled Windham, because it is in the I-93 corridor, to purchase brand-new trucks, specially equipped to regulate the distribution of salt on roads.

Highway agent Jack McCartney said yesterday the town already has purchased two new trucks with grants.

The first two cost a combined $315,000. But the town’s share was just $63,000.

“We are going out to bid for the third one now,” he said.

Hohenberger was urging voters to approve at Town Meeting in March a warrant article providing a fourth truck.

The question asks voters to approve $180,000 for a five-ton truck.

It’s contingent on the town getting a state grant that would pick up $144,000. The town share would be $36,000.

“Should this article be approved, but state reimbursement not occur, this article will be considered null and void,” the warrant article reads.

McCartney confirmed Hohenberger’s account of those trucks bought at auction.

He said the town would typically buy a truck for $4,500 to $6,000 that had been on the road for 10 years or more.

It wasn’t just that they were old and had a lot of miles.

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