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Road work on Great Hill

CORNWALL — A town meeting to appropriate $205,000 toward a road improvement project will be held Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.The public will hear details of the project from Roger Kane, a Cornwall resident hired to oversee the Great Hollow and Great Hill roads project. The most important piece for most will be that the town expects to be reimbursed for all or nearly 100 percent of project costs.That’s not the deal that road and bridge projects usually get. At best, reimbursement typically comes in at 80 percent. But this project is funded by state and federal American Recovery and Investment (ARRA) grants, commonly called stimulus funds.The Board of Selectmen has been working on this project for a while now — since the funding was made available in 2009 and Great Hill was identified as one of the roads that qualified for stimulus funding. It began with enough money for work on a short stretch of road. The board decided guardrail replacement was needed along with repaving. It has since grown into a much larger project.It seemed like the powers that be were not considering more than maps when choosing which roads would qualify. Great Hill was selected because it is a “feeder” road between two towns. It is the only direct route to Milton, one of the oldest settlements in the state and once the county seat.These days, it is sparsely populated, with so many historic structures in it that it has earned designation as a national Historic District. In terms of road use, the feeder road is not a major conduit, and Great Hill Road is not normally of higher priority than any other town road. And perhaps for those same reasons, other towns declined to put the effort and front money into projects. On more than one occasion, as money was thrown back into the pot, Cornwall was offered (and accepted) additional funding.The project was gradually extended to its current status: Great Hollow Road from Mohawk Ski Area to Great Hill Road, up to the College Street intersection. Most of the resurfacing will be chip-sealed, using a new rubberized process that worked well on some roads in the area last winter.The total project cost is expected to be about $350,000, with all of it covered under the grants, except for possibly some of Kane’s $10,000 fee. The town previously allocated $146,000 toward the project.A pre-bid meeting was scheduled for Monday, with bids due Aug. 18.“Before the town meeting, we will know if we have a viable project,” First Selectman Gordon Ridgway said.

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