SALEM, N.H. — Selectmen learned this week it could cost nearly $1 million to replace aging water pipes in the historic Salem Depot area, but were hesitant to spend $30,000 to study the town’s entire system.
The board voted unanimously to hold off on the study until after it receives more information from an engineering firm.
The decision Monday comes in the wake of three recent major water main breaks at or near the Depot intersection, delaying traffic for hours and shutting down lanes on heavily traveled Route 28.
Some businesses were also left without water, forcing them to close for part of the day as crews worked to resolve the problem.
The second break caused the road to collapse, leaving a 10-by-7-foot crater in the middle of the intersection. During the third break, a 200-foot strip of Route 28 buckled about 6 to 8 inches.
Town Manager Keith Hickey said it would cost at least $10,000 to repair each of the first two breaks and thousands of dollars more for the third. The breaks occurred during a three-week period in May and June.
Hickey told selectmen it would cost approximately $952,000 to replace water lines near the Route 28 and Main Street intersection and along Howard Street.
Part of the Route 28 water line dates back to 1890, public works director Rick Russell said. The town is planning a major overhaul of the busy intersection anyway, but that work is several years off unless the construction schedule is accelerated.
A local engineering firm, Wright-Pierce, has been asked to analyze the town’s water system to determine the extent of deterioration and need for replacement or repair.
But selectmen balked at funding the $30,000 proposed study, questioning the work’s value in comparison to the cost. They unanimously agreed Monday to table discussion of the issue following a presentation by Wright-Pierce senior project manager Christopher Silke.