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September 11, 2013

Salem postpones work on many streets

Funding shortfalls to affect 'short roads'

SALEM — If your badly deteriorating road happens to be on the town’s “short list,” don’t expect to see it reconstructed any time soon.

At least not in the next decade, though that could change. It’s just not very likely that it would.

Selectmen took their first look Monday at the town’s proposed 10-year road plan, reviewing millions of dollars in projects scheduled up until 2023.

But the plan, outlined by Town Wide Road Stabilization Committee Chairman Robert Puff, does not include the reconstruction of roads less than 500 feet long.

That’s approximately 40 to 45 roads, according to Selectman James Keller.

The need to complete numerous road projects with limited funding means about $11 million in work won’t be done as hoped over the next 10 years, according to Puff, also the town’s engineering director.

That meant making some tough decisions and carefully weighing the needs of the community, he said.

Approximately 36 miles of roads won’t be milled and paved and about five miles would not be reconstructed, Puff said. The town maintains 182 miles of road.

Selectmen previously approved $4.65 million in road work for this year, and plan to spend the same amount in 2014. Puff has said skyrocketing construction and material costs, especially for paving, have taken their toll on the town budget.

Puff said he and fellow committee members, including Selectman Michael Lyons, reviewed the list of potential projects and visited the streets, deciding the smaller ones would have to wait.

“We knew this might be a little controversial,” Lyons said. “There is only so much money. ... We think this makes the most sense.”

But Selectmen Stephen Campbell disagreed, saying such a blanket approach would upset residents of those small streets.

They include everything from a 136-foot section of Middle Street to a 495-foot portion of Point A Road. The small streets would still be milled and paved as needed, just not reconstructed, Puff said.

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