Norwich’s response to repair washed out roads after the July 1 storm was massive for a few days. Dump trucks were everywhere.
And then the repair work seemed to stop.
All over town, and on Turnpike Road in particular, residents wondered about the lack of progress.
Portions of Turnpike Road are still just wide enough for one car.
But that is about to change.
Last Thursday the Selectboard authorized a contract with Nott’s Excavating, Inc. to repair Turnpike Road, Upper Turnpike Road, Needham Road and Tigertown Road. The signed contract was for $1,779,793.00. Work is slated to begin this month.
The reason there was little progress being made between July and October was red tape. Norwich was permitted to conduct any form of necessary repairs within 70 hours of the July 1 storm according to a FEMA rule. While that 70-hour clock ticks, the Town is granted significant latitude.
During that period, the Norwich road crew worked tirelessly to get all town roadways repaired to a level that would permit emergency vehicles some level of access throughout town. Thereafter, town crew repaired roadways to the extent that the crew and equipment was capable. All in all, the town carried out repairs in excess of $500,000 after the storm. (Those costs will be eligible for shared reimbursement with FEMA and the state.)
Different rules and regulations must be followed after the 70-hour period—including a time-consuming bidding process. It took a lot of engineering time just to write the bidding specifications. The specifications for Turnpike Road had 32 unique line items and each road covered by the contract had to have a similar document. As the full extent of the damage was understood the town had to negotiate with FEMA over costs that are not usually covered—such as rebuilding the roads’ substrate. Finally the the contractors needed time to prepare their bids. Nott’s Excavating out of Hartford, VT, was awarded the contract with a bid totaling $1,779,793. Other bids ranged from $1,922,212.75 to $2,290,045
The Observer contacted Town Manager Herb Durfee to get some additional details about the road projects.
The Observer: $1.7 million is a lot of money.
Where will it come from?
Durfee: The roadway repair project must be funded in its entirety by the Town. However, a good portion of it is reimbursable via FEMA and the state. FEMA can reimburse repair work up to 75% of total project costs. Also, because the Town adopted road & bridge standards that meet or exceed minimum VTrans standards, the state will reimburse the Town for an additional 12.5% of total project costs. Thus, the Town, ultimately, is on the hook for 12.5% of total project costs. For example, an eligible repair project totaling $100,000, could be reimbursed $75,000 by FEMA, $12,500 by the state, leaving the remaining $12,500 to the Town.
Observer: Work is starting this month. When do you expect it to be completion?
Durfee: We’re trying to complete the current project (Turnpike, Upper Turnpike, Needham, and Tigertown) as much before winter as possible. Obviously, the closer we approach winter the more subject to weather and frost we become.
Observer: Beaver Meadow Road isn’t on the repair list. What is happening there?
Durfee: Repairs to Beaver Meadow Road required substantial additional engineering analysis. Thus, this roadway has not yet gone out to bid for repair work. Sometime later this year, the Town will go out to bid on that roadway, whereby roadway repair would be carried out probably beginning next spring.