PRINCETON — The Road Advisory Committee got an update on the status of the soon to be completed Calamint Hill Road North project at its Aug. 28 meeting.
Larry Greene Jr. presented the summary by the WDA Design Group, a Westborough company that was chosen by the select board to provide oversight for the project.
Over the next two to three weeks, work will continue on underdrains, shoulder regrading, constructing a water quality swale to handle storm water, installing a settling basin and stabilization, and hydroseeding slopes.
Greene said the town has enjoyed a good working relationship with contractor J.H. Lynch & Sons, with “great communication,” as well as Princeton Tree, which did the necessary tree removals for the project.
“It’s been a success; they’ve been great to work with,” Greene said.
Feedback from residents in the area has also been positive, he said.
“If everything goes according to plan, hopefully in a month, we’ll have a completed project,” he said.
Regarding further removal of trees in the area, Greene said the state has regulations concerning who is allowed to cut down shade trees without first posting a hearing.
Trees that present a hazard by public ways can be cut without holding a hearing first, he said. Greene recommended first using an auger to drill through trees to see if they have a hollow core that indicates damage and then removing those trees.
He estimated that about a third of the trees already removed for the Calamint Hill Road project were already dead.
Greene also advised the town to consider using “squash pipe” to handle stream crossings and culvert replacements where there are shallow profiles from the top of the pipe to the finished pavement.
Squash pipe has an elliptical shape that allows more water to flow through than a smaller, round pipe.
The town has to meet state stream crossing standards or it will have to add an additional tier of hearings, which could add another six weeks to the permitting process, Greene said.
Alternative roads projects funding
Greene suggested the Roads Advisory Committee consider using a leasing agency to fund a roads project.
He has worked with many school districts on athletic field replacement projects, he said, where the districts have trouble coming up with funding.
“I’ve been working with National Cooperative Leasing Agency out of Minnesota, where the agency buys out the project,” Greene said.
On a culvert project, the leasing agency would pay for the construction and engineering, giving the town the opportunity to do an eight-year buyout on completion.
“It allows you to use your budget more wisely, and it gives you more options,” he said.
Going through a leasing agency means the project expenditure does not affect the town’s bond rating, and the project circumvents the restrictions of the public bidding process, said Greene.
“Now you’re not paying for public bid construction and you eliminate all that public bidding, going to the central register and advertising,” he said, adding that it speeds the process up by about a month and a half.
At the end of the eight years, the town pays the lease company a nominal amount for the field, Green said. Eight years has been the longest lease period that Greene has had experience with, but longer periods may be available, he said.
The lease also does not require town meeting approval. National Cooperative Leasing Agency has funded road projects, but has not funded any culvert projects yet, Greene said. The company did indicate it would be interested in talking to town officials, he said.
Road Advisory Committee chairman William Holder wondered who owned the property while the lease was being paid off, and whether any title for the property had to be exchanged.
Greene said he has never worked the legal side of the lease agreements, so he was not aware of the arrangements handled by the school districts’ financial managers.
Committee members agreed it was an interesting funding option, but would require more investigation.