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Sand Mill Road Bridge on County Transportation Plan

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The state will allocate money to replace the recently repaired Sand Mill Road Bridge in 2022.
Highway Superintendent Blair Crane told the Selectmen on Tuesday that he was notified that the bridge is on the Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Improvement Program sheet for 2022. The MPO, funded by the state Department of Transportation, operates through the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
"That had nothing o do with us … that just came out of thin air," Crane said.
After the state shut down the bridge in early 2015 because of structural concerns. The town used funds from Chapter 90 road funds to partially repair the bridge last year after residents complained about the lengthened commute. The state had indicated in August that it would fund a replacement. 
Town Administrator Mark Webber said $2.5 million in state and federal funds will be allocated for the replacement.
Crane said the project was likely bumped up on the list after the post-repair inspection but asked how to advocate for specific projects. Crane said he would prefer to put the money toward Route 116.
"The road it is hooked to, 116, could use that and then some … obviously, it is a bigger nugget than the town has the ability to take care of," Crane said. "It's just wild that the bridge ended up there without really any work on our behalf yet when you need it, you can't get it on there." 
Crane also reported that Adams Plumbing and Heating will have to survey one of Cheshire School's boilers, which is leaking.
"Every week, we change over from one boiler to the other in the new section, so the same boiler isn't constantly calling for demand," he said. "He went from boiler two to boiler one today and realized that boiler one has a leak or hole in it somewhere because steam was pouring out the back."
Cane said the extreme cold weather will cause issues during repair because the heat has to be totally shut off.
"When you are 48 hours out of a high of negative-4 that's probably not the dice you want to roll at this point, so they will get over here in the next day or two to see how severe it is," Crane said. 
Crane said the department is monitoring the heat in the building and so far, the temperature is constant in the 60s. 
In other business, Webber said the state certified the town's free cash of $416,220.
"It is a comfortable amount and we have to thank town staff," he said.
He said free cash last year was $626,000 and although that is more than this year, the town can expect $168,000 to cycle in through Chapter 90 next year.
"Last year was sort of an anomaly and this year would have been close but DOR offset $168,000 for Chapter 90 but that's OK because we will get it next year," he said. "We don't lose it, it just cycles in."
Before closing, Webber told Crane that he has received complaints from residents who did not like BIVI chip the town uses on gravel roads during snow storms. Webber said they complained that the chip stuck in their tires and shoes and scratched their wood floors.
Crane said the chip is the best solution at this point.
"With every decision, there are benefits and cons and with this, I think the benefits outweigh the cons," he said. "At the end of the day that is what we are trying to do. This saves money and cuts back on salt use. It is better. It is not a perfect solution, but we live in New England."

Tags: bridge project,   MPO,   

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