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Salem road repairs may have to wait

SALEM - Following a lengthy debate at Monday night's selectmen meeting, it looks like a renovation of South Shore Road is not likely to happen anytime soon.

If water and sewer line upgrades are included, the project could cost nearly $3 million.

Despite complaints from residents about the condition of the road, the project could still be put off until 2020, the targeted reconstruction date, according to Town Manager Keith Hickey.

Selectmen agreed to revisit the issue in the wake of last month's meeting, when a number of South Shore Road homeowners urged the town to fix the road much sooner than scheduled.

Resident Michael Pucci told the board that in the three decades he's lived at his home, he has watched the road slowly disintegrate to the point where it now presents a safety issue for travelers.

The road was last overlaid about a dozen years ago, according to residents, and right now, there are sections of the roadway that disappear from view when the rain falls.

On Monday night, town Engineering Director Robert Puff shared recent cost estimates for the project.

According to Puff, it will cost just under $1 million to restore the road and update the drainage system, with an addition $1.2 million needed to update the area's sewer system. Updating the area's water lines would cost an additional $700,000.

Selectman Chairman Everett McBride Jr. suggested the town conduct a survey of neighborhood residents to gauge public interest on their most pressing priorities.

"I know there's a lot of interest in this road," McBride said. "I don't think we're interested in moving forward with water and sewer renovations but we should at least see how the neighbors feel about it."

Selectmen Stephen Campbell warned that "any survey we conduct should lay out the fact that this is not free."

South Shore Road resident George Abraham said he and neighbors have waited decades for improvements to the road.

"If we wait until 2020, that would mean we've waited 30 years even though we've asked for this several times," Abraham told the board. "The town continues to patch the road up and that's not helping."

Abraham urged the town to at least consider working on South Shore Road during 2014, with some of the most compromised sections to be skim coated sometime in the coming year.

He said there are currently 20 people in the neighborhood that would like to see the road reconstructed, and some of them would like to see sewer repairs as well, though Abraham doesn't believe water upgrades are currently necessary.

"Every road around us has been done," Abraham told town officials.

Puff said he will return to a board meeting next month with more details, including the site's most recent Pavement Condition Index (PCI) ratings.

Hickey urged the board to step back and "look at the situation as a whole" by having the town's road repairs subcommittee research the situation further and share their findings with the board in the coming months.

Selectman Michael Lyons said it's late in the game to start redesigning the road for next year. "It's been 11 years since we've done this particular review on the road," Lyons said. "We have to go through the process and do it in a way that makes sense."

Hickey agreed, stating that while he didn't "want to be the bearer of bad news, I think 2014 is unrealistic," he said. "We've brought proposals to the committee twice now and the committee said no.

There are 50 houses on that road, and there are many larger roads in the committee that I would spend $900,000 on before this one," he said.


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