By Marianne Apfelbaum
July 11, 2013
Residents and visitors inconvenienced by the town’s closure of a portion of Old Stage Road will have to be patient a while longer.
A portion of the road was closed to all “traffic”—vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians—after the most recent heavy storms, which made the area unsafe due to damage to the concrete footbridge and pump station areas north of the intersection with Route 2.
Public Works Director Bruce Hoar hopes that the section of road nearest the pump station will open later this week to give access to Maple Road, but the remaining portion—which requires a winding detour through the Southridge neighborhood—will remain closed indefinitely.
The large culvert between Maple and Brookside drives “with the concrete footbridge is closed for the immediate foreseeable future,” Hoar said. “The bridge is not safe to be walking on. It is cracked underneath,” he said, strongly urging pedestrians to stay away from the area. “We will have to get cranes in there to lift it out of the way to see what is going on,” he said.
“Every time it rains, there are issues there going back a couple of years,” Town Manager Rick McGuire said.
Hoar said the town previously got a grant from the state to do work on the footbridge, including lining the bottom of the large multi-plate culvert. “The bottom of it had troubles…so it will be lined with concrete, but we have to be sure before we do it that we have weather where we are not getting storms.” The grant doesn’t cover what will now have to be done to the bridge on top, Hoar added.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency was in town on Wednesday, and reviewed the damage with Hoar. “FEMA will come back and tell us how much money we will get, but we probably won’t get money to replace the culvert because it is still there,” Hoar said.
Both Hoar and McGuire also said the culvert near the pump station needs to be replaced, an issue that existed even before the recent set of storms. “A lot goes into it. There is a gas line, sewer, water, power all along the right of way. The corrugated metal pipe that goes underneath the road…is too small and has been damaged, so it needs to be replaced,” McGuire said.
McGuire estimates it will be more than a year before that work will be done, “but that won’t prevent us from opening the road in that section in the meantime.” For now, the sewer pump station is “encapsulated with sandbags and plastic to protect it from future storms,” he said.
The cost for the pump station culvert replacement project is separate from the current storm damage estimates, and will be the single biggest expense, McGuire acknowledged. “We would have to look at the (town’s) reserve account” to pay for it, McGuire said.
Pending FEMA approval, federal aid will cover approximately 80 percent of the estimated $250,000 in damages in Williston from the June and July storms. The town will need to foot the bill for the remaining $50,000, which Town Manager Rick McGuire said could come from the approximately $400,000 budget set aside to pave town roads. “Assuming we have to come up with 20 percent, we will reduce the paving budget accordingly,” McGuire said. “That could cover all expenses, however, it’s not a great option because it will cause more expense down the line.”
In the short term, McGuire is delaying the paving projects while he waits to hear back from the state and federal governments on exactly what they will be contributing. “We have to be prudent here,” he said.