Orleans Main Street / 6A Makeover Feels The Pinch

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Infrastructure , Orleans news

The new steel bulkhead is substantially complete at Rock Harbor, with the majority of new piles driven. The crane in the background is driving metal sheets along the boat ramp in this photo taken last month.  ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS – Higher than expected costs for some elements of the makeover of the key intersection of Route 6A and Main Street have the town seeing red – to the amount of $144,652. In his quarterly activities report to selectmen Feb. 1, DPW/Natural Resources Director Tom Daley presented the problem – and a solution.

In 2014, town meeting authorized spending $428,000 on items that the state would not cover in its project. These included colored concrete, brick edging, ornamental lights and stamped crosswalks, all intended to reinforce downtown's distinctive identity.

Actual costs for the concrete and crosswalks came back under budget, but the brick edging and ornamental lights were much higher than anticipated.

Daley recommended eliminating the stamped crosswalks, a savings of $93,750, and proposed an intriguing step to reduce sharply the $57,547.50 cost of colored concrete. He said the town should tell the state to use “regular” concrete, as it would have if the town had not asked for the special material, chopping another $53,000 out of the project.

“People spent a lot of time trying to put this together,” Selectman Alan McClennen said, noting that “25 people showed up and spoke on town meeting floor.” Having just heard that night that the town, after paying for road improvements elsewhere, would have a balance of $309,000 in its pavement management and state Chapter 90 roads funds, he urged that the $144,652 shortfall be made up from that money to “keep the project the ways the voters voted.”

Selectmen vice chairman David Dunford was concerned that diverting the money to the project would delay needed road repairs.

“Your DPW director told you the town does not spend enough money on its roads,” Town Administrator John Kelly said. “So, yes, something gets deferred.” He said the same thing happened when the town used the road funds to pay for design work on realigning the intersection of Routes 28 and 39 (with a design in hand, the state will pay for the actual road work).

Selectmen Jon Fuller proposed eliminating the stamped crosswalks and pursuing Daley's notion of getting the state to shift to the regular rather than colored concrete to reduce costs to the town. If that gambit failed, he said, the town should pay for the colored concrete out of Chapter 90 and pavement management funds. The board approved the motion 4-1, with McClennen dissenting.

There was much more to Daley's report, including the news that all metal sheeting is complete for the new bulkhead at Rock Harbor. He said the contractor has started to work 10-hour days to meet the March 31 project deadline.

Daley said the latest cost estimate for the new DPW and Natural Resources building hit an all-inclusive number of $14.324 million last month. “We were a little stressed and shocked,” he said, adding that staff went over the numbers to see “what we can live without.” The latest revision puts the total cost at $13,833,803, with construction costs of $287 per square foot. Daley promised to “continue to look at the project to get as close to $13.6 million as possible.”

Daley outlined a “very aggressive” road repair program for the year ahead, including work on Rock Harbor, Barley Neck,, and Pochet roads, among others.