Wilton alters paving plan again, high cost of materials cited

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WILTON – Town Manager Peter Nielsen and Highway Department Foreman John Welch had more bad news to report to the board of selectmen at Tuesday’s meeting. The company contracted to repave two roads in town has requested additional money for the second time, citing the high costs of materials.

After the last selectmen’s meeting, Bruce Manzer, whose company won the bid for a repaving of the Lake Road and the Wilton-portion of the Old Jay Road, came before the board with a proposal to alter the contract. Due to the high cost of materials, he recommended switching to a stabilized base mix. That mix is made out of partially recycled pavement from the existing road, to cut down on high material costs.

That plan would have increased the cost of the projects by roughly $3,500 to $175,000. That amount was still within the $196,000 amount budgeted for repaving at the annual town meeting.

However, Nielsen said that after the meeting Manzer learned that the price had changed again.

“He got to work and learned that he had more bad news,” Nielsen said, “he called me and my first reaction was… well I was angry.”

The constant uptick in prices is not a phenomenon limited to Wilton. Nielsen noted that Waterville was trying the reassesses its needs after realizing it would need to spend an additional $50,000 to complete its road projects.

Nielsen and Welch developed several possible strategies. Many of these, such as postponing all work or seeking new bids were deemed unrealistic, but a workable idea was developed. Selectmen approved the plan, which will put only two inches of the stabilizing base on Lake Road and the Old Jay Road. Normally, road crews but down two inches for a base, then another inch of pavement surface mix.

“Three [inches] is better,” Nielsen said. “Two’s enough.”

The total cost for this new plan would be $155,000. That, along with the roughly $10,000 already spent for the anti-erosion efforts along the Wilson Lake shore, would leave $30,000 in the budget for road work. That money would be set aside for next year.

The plan still includes guardrails and curbing for the Lake Road portion. The Old Jay Road improvements were timed to be conducted along with the town of Jay’s efforts on their half of that road, but selectmen their have now reconsidered, facing similar financial problems with purchasing paving material.

“The other issue is, it’s getting so late in the year,” Selectman Russell Black said. Welch noted that paving could not occur on cool, damp days, as the pavement would not bind correctly and be weak.

In other business, selectmen unanimously approve the adoption of an amendment to the Town of Wilton Parking and Traffic Ordinance, which makes Lake Road unaccessible to through truck traffic.

It reads: “NO THRU TRUCKS. Lake Road, from main Street to US Route 2. Commercial size trucks with more than one rear axle are not allowed except: when making deliveries to neighborhood properties, maintaining the road and utilities, and/or responding to emergencies.”

Those found in violation with the amendment will be in violation of the ordinance, subject to fines not exceeding $100. Black noted that selectmen may want to revisit the ordinance fining system at some point, to account for inflation and other issues.

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