MILTON — With the weather warming and the snow gone, paving season is just around the corner and Milton’s Department of Public Works is starting to plan.
Late this spring and early this summer, the town will pave a section each of East Road and Duffy Road, Public Works Director David Allerton said.
Milton has historically budgeted too little money for paving and road maintenance. With about 100 miles of road in town, the $235,000 allocated for paving in FY21 was not nearly enough, Allerton said.
He often receives phone calls from residents who ask why more roads are not being paved, but his response is always the same: “We don’t have enough money.”
“Down here we struggle with roads all the time, and it’s because of a lack of investment,” he said.
The Selectboard aimed to partly fix those historical mistakes during this year’s budgeting process, by increasing the paving budget to $350,000.
“I’m an avid cyclist, and I cycle many of these roads and know they are in abysmal shape,” Vice Chair Michael Morgan said during a December 2020 meeting.
Allerton originally asked for $750,000, but the board decided that given the financial impact of COVID-19, it would be better to ask the voters for their opinion.
“We need to go out to the voters to find out what they are willing to do,” Clerk Chris Taylor said during the same meeting.
On March 2, the Selectboard discovered that Milton voters are willing to put more money into paving, because the paving question, which asked for $400,000 additional dollars, was passed.
“Now I’ve got $750,000 to work with, and that's something really important to get out to everybody — that is really the minimum I need every year, in perpetuity, to maintain Milton’s roads,” Allerton said.
The town has until June 30 to use the $235,000 in the FY21 paving budget. On July 1, the FY22 paving funds, totaling $750,000, become available.
So far, here are the roads the town has announced it will pave. More are likely to be announced in the coming months.
East Road will be paved from Bridge 5 to McMullen Road. Public Works has a meeting with bidders this Friday, April 9 to discuss the timeline and to finalize the cost.
Prior to paving the road, Public Works needs to replace about six culverts, or pipes that allow water to flow under the road.
Allerton said each culvert will take approximately a day to replace, therefore about a week’s worth of work needs to be completed before paving on East Road can begin.
At the April 5 Selectboard meeting, Don Turner estimated paving would take place in June.
Allerton said the town plans to pave the southern section of Duffy Road from the intersection at Mars Hollow Road to the Colchester Town Line.
“While the section from McMullen Road to Mars Hollow is also in need of repair and paving, there is a culvert we need to design and replace, as well as stormwater improvements needed just north of Mars Hollow, before we can pave this intermediate section of Duffy Road,” Allerton said in a April 7 email to the Independent.
Lake Road paving still up in the air
The town is currently applying for a VTrans Class 2 Structures and Paving Grant, valued at about $175,000. If received, the town will pick up paving on Lake Road from where it was stopped last year.
The section in need of resurfacing is approximately two miles long — from the intersection at Cary Drive to Stonebridge Road.
Allerton said this will cost between $250,000 and $300,000, a sum that is too expensive for the town to pay on its own right now.
“If we don’t get the grant, we might be able to do a shorter section of Lake Road and then apply for the grant again next year,” Allerton stated.
Allerton is hopeful that more dollars for transportation projects will be made available to Milton through the American Rescue Plan, but this has not yet been announced.
“One thing I know for sure, is that Milton has more roads in need of paving than we ever get money to pave them with, and the roads don’t fix themselves,” Allerton stated.