WILTON – Selectmen discussed the implementation of a “no thru truck” regulation for the Lake Road at a public hearing Tuesday evening, as well as a modification to the summer reconstruction project.
The ordinance would prohibit commercial trucks from using the road, which has suffered in the past from heavy use. The extra weight of those vehicles is also believed to be somewhat responsible for the condition of the abutting Wilson Lake shoreline, at which highway department personnel have been required to control erosion with rip wrap.
“We’re looking for people to stop using it as a shortcut,” Selectman Russell Black said.
The ban would be on all commercial trucks passing through, excluding those making deliveries and emergency equipment. Selectmen are concerned that some truck drivers are using Lake Road to skip a weigh station on Route 2, and this would make such an action illegal. The idea has been met with widespread support from residents of the street at public hearings, meetings and walkthroughs conducted over the past month and a half.
Terry Brann pointed out a possible problem with the ordinance change.
“I live there and drive back every day with an empty truck,” Brann said wryly. “So, I guess I would be opposed to this.”
Selectmen agreed that light trucks, such as pickup and hybrid passenger-commercial vehicles, should be exempt from the ban. They instructed Town Manager Peter Nielsen to add another exemption clause to the ordinance, for single rear-axle vehicles, unlike the multi-axle tractor trailer and pulp trucks. This change will require a new public hearing, probably at the next selectmen’s meeting.
In other Lake Road business, selectmen heard a report from Nielsen and Bruce Manzer about the upcoming construction project. Manzer, operating out of Anson, won the Lake Road contract with his low bid in June. However, in the past month, the price of liquid asphalt and transportation has increased dramatically. Under these new conditions, Manzer said, the current contract is simply not economically feasible.
Instead, Nielsen and Manzer developed an alternate strategy. Manzer will use a mixed base of new asphalt and recycled asphalt milled off of Lake Road. This is expected to save enough money to mostly offset the price increases. The recycled mix comes highly recommended, as it is more flexible than brand-new asphalt. This lets the road shift and flex in the winter.
Nielsen thought that the change would result in a net increase of roughly $3,500. Manzer noted that amount could adjust slightly as the exact measurements and procedures for the project are laid out.
“Who would have thought that asphalt prices would double,” he said, going on to say that he would be happy if he “broke even” on the Lake Road job.
Nielsen said that despite the change, he remained confident that the town’s road projects would go forward as planned.
“I’m convinced that we can do these projects within our budgets,” he said.