By Marianne Apfelbaum
July 25th, 2013
“Yeah!! I’ve never loved Old Stage Road so much…What a pleasant surprise to see it open for business again!”
Comments on the Observer’s Facebook page summed up residents’ joy at the announcement that a portion of Old Stage Road reopened sooner than expected last week, after being closed for repairs due to damage from recent storms.
A crane was seen on site last Tuesday, which lifted three sections of the road’s concrete footbridge in order to assess the damage caused by the storms. Structural engineer Martin Hain of Knights Consulting Engineers told Public Works Director Bruce Hoar that there was “visible cracking and damage,” Hoar said. “The (sections) have been condemned, for lack of a better term.”
The sections were taken out and removed, leaving no sidewalk through the section of Old Stage Road near Brookside Drive. “We still have quite a bit of work to figure out how to pay to put the sidewalk back in place,” Hoar said. As of press time on Wednesday, the town was still waiting for word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as to whether it will pay for a portion of the repairs.
If FEMA approves the funding—about 80 to 85 percent of the cost, Hoar estimates—the town would order the building materials in the hope of having “the new sidewalk in place before school starts,” Hoar said.
The balance after deducting FEMA’s contribution would be paid with the town’s paving fund, as paving projects have been put on hold until the town is certain what FEMA will be covering for the total damages from the June and July storms, which are estimated at $250,000.
Without FEMA funding, Hoar will need to discuss the situation with the town manager and possibly the Selectboard, as well, to determine how to pay for the repairs.
Local businesses also took a hit to their coffers due to the road closure. Scott Adams, co-owner of Adams Apple Orchard and Farm Market, said, “Business was way off during the days that it was closed. I’m extremely grateful it is open again.”
When the footbridge/sidewalk repair is beingdone, Old Stage Road will be closed “for short periods,” Hoar said.
In addition to the footbridge repairs, the culvert near the Old Stage Road pump station needs to be replaced—an issue that existed even before the recent storms—at an estimated cost of $50,000-$100,000. Town Manager Rick McGuire said it could be more than a year before that work will be completed.
The cost for the project is separate from the current storm damage estimates, and will be the single biggest expense, McGuire said. The good news: Hoar said he should be able to avoid closing the road during the repairs.