HARWICH — The major capital project facing the town in the coming year is a projected $5,560,471 Lower County Road reconstruction to be funded solely by the town.
The project could be eligible for the state/federal Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), to qualify the road layout would have to be widened, which officials say will compromise community character.
Department of Public Works Director Lincoln Hooper made a presentation to selectmen Monday night on the project, explaining he would like to go out to bid in January and have a contract cost by April before going into town meeting and seeking a debt exclusion.
“The road is in dire need of work,” Hooper told selectmen, citing numerous deficiencies, including poor condition, structural defects with its base, a non-ADA compliant sidewalk and old and failing drainage systems. The water department has done $1.2 million in water infrastructure upgrades along the road in the past year and the road surface is heavily patched.
Hooper said the scope of the project is more than can be handled under the county bid road construction items, and the cost is more than could be absorbed within the annual road maintenance plan budget. While the project is eligible for TIP funding, “there is no way to meet MassDOT's Complete Streets with the town's 40-foot right of way.” Hooper said 43 feet would be needed for the sidewalks and bike paths required by the state program, and that would not be in character with the neighborhood.
“The state wants Complete Streets and there is very little variance from MassDOT,” he said.
Hooper is proposing a stand-alone project, which will be constructed in the same footprint. However, the sidewalk along the 2.25 mile stretch from Route 28 in Harwich Port to the Dennis town line will be increased from four to five feet to meet ADA requirements.
Hooper said he has used retired MassDOT senior project engineer Tom Ockerbloom to assist in developing the project as a “book job,” when a roadway is being reconstructed in the same footprint of the original road, thus not requiring detailed engineering plans.
Hooper told selectmen this approach saved the town about $300,000 because engineering drawings are not needed for each aspect of the project; this method only cost $40,000.
Ockerbloom provided selectmen with a scope of work, pointing out the limit of work will be from Division Street, the town line, to Route 28 in Harwich Port, which is 2.25 miles. Full-depth roadway reconstruction will occur from Division Street to Trinity Cove Road and from Brooks Road to Route 28 due to failing pavement.
From Trinity Cove Road to Brooks Road, he said, milling and resurfacing will be done because the pavement is satisfactory. There will be reconstruction of sidewalks throughout the project.
There will also be guardrail improvements and concrete surface preservation work done at the Allen Harbor Bridge. Drainage system will also be upgraded, along with pavement markings, traffic signs, safety and sight distance clearing, shoulder landscaping and other incidental work, Ockerbloom said.
Selectman Michael MacAskill wanted to know how much the numbers have changed since the initial presentation by Ockerbloom in 2016. “Very little, it really hasn't changed,” Ockerbloom said.
MacAskill also wanted to know if using the town's road maintenance funds to offset the cost to taxpayers was considered. Hooper said he would put the condition of Harwich's road up against any town on the Cape, but using those funds would “decimate our road program.”
The project is on the town's capital plan and has been recommended by Town Administrator Christopher Clark and the capital outlay committee for funding for FY2020. Ockerbloom said construction would take place over two construction seasons with no work taking place from June 15 to Sept. 15.