Orleans: State Says Sewer Work Can't Be Part Of Its Road Project

By: Ed Maroney


ORLEANS A state lawyer says that the Department of Transportation's intersection project on Main Street can't be changed to include construction of a sewer collection system, which could delay the sewer work well into the next decade.

Later this month, town meeting and voters at a subsequent special election are scheduled to decide on spending $3.7 million for the sewer work. The plan was to have Lawrence-Lynch Corp., which is doing the intersection work, perform the sewer installation as a change order to the state road project. If the sewer work is not done before or simultaneously with the road work, the town would not be allowed to dig up the street again for five years following the road project's completion. Also, streetscape enhancements approved for installation by town meeting for Main Street between Routes 6A and 28 would be affected.

In an Sept. 22 email response to Mary-Joe Perry, District 5 highway director for the DOT, the department's deputy general counsel, Al Caldarelli, wrote that “the work should be separately bid and not performed pursuant to a change order to the Contract.” Caldarelli noted that the cost of the two projects is almost the same (around $3.7 million), that the sewer work is not related to the original purpose of the contract, and that using a change order “does not ensure that the town obtains the lowest price for the work based on competition.”

On Sept. 29, Orleans DPW/Natural Resources Director Tom Daley wrote to selectmen about his Sept. 26 conversation with Perry and other state staffers, who he said “are still very willing to work with Orleans on this project and offered Orleans the option to design, bid and construct the sewers as a town project if the voters approve the funding at town meeting and at the polls. MassDOT would be willing to hold off Lawrence Lynch from completing the road work until after the town completed the sewer work.” After review by counsel, he added, there appear to be “no issues with proceeding with the warrant article or ballot question as drafted.”

Should town meeting and voters at the subsequent ballot this month agree to proceed, Daley's proposed schedule shows bids going out in November of this year and construction on the sewer collection system beginning March 5, ending Dec. 7 of that year (work would stop for the summer). The state's intersection work would start again in March 2019.

Selectmen will discuss the new situation at their meeting Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The packed agenda includes a conversation with the board of water and sewer commissioners about using water tower property on Lots Hollow Road as an alternate site for discharging treated wastewater.