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Rough road in planning repairs

CORNWALL — Approval was given quickly at a town meeting Aug. 23 for the appropriation of funds toward a town road project. Nine people spent about the same number of minutes on an essentially noncontroversial project. Two days later, though, that project was in jeopardy.The $205,000 approved last week will be added to the pot of money already allocated toward an estimated $350,000 project for resurfacing, guardrails and drainage repairs along parts of Great Hollow and Great Hill roads.The funds will be fully or almost entirely reimbursed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly called the stimulus bill. The additional allocation was needed because the project has grown since its first proposal, as more funding — turned down by other towns — became available. The roads were eligible as designated feeder roads between Cornwall and Milton. While they may not seem important in that respect, those who live on the roads and beyond are anxious to see improvements on the somewhat difficult roads. The most troublesome stretch is the north end of Great Hill, where it traverses a swamp at the bottom of a steep hill. The additional funds extended the project from that portion back along Great Hollow to the ski area. Great Hill will be done from the intersection to College Street.Great Hill Road residents weighed in with the selectmen’s office prior to the town meeting to say that other parts of the road are in worse shape. First Selectman Gordon Ridgway said the intent is to work on the remainder of the road with another grant next year.There is no agreement in place, however, and the town would have to come up with 20 percent of costs. The estimate to repair the remainder of Great Hill Road, to the Goshen line, is about $1 million.“It’s probably one of the worst roads in town,” Ridgway said. “It has some drainage issues, and ledge.”On the morning of Aug. 25, the picture changed dramatically. There were two serious bidders at a prior pre-bid meeting. Only one returned a bid for the job. All States Asphalt Inc. in Sunderland, Mass., bid $212,050.However, a caveat of the bid was that the installation of rubberized asphalt, planned for portions of the roads, would not be applied after Sept. 1. The somewhat flexible material is ideal for highly stressed roads, but needs warm weather to set. All States offered to do the project next spring.That left the selectmen to go back to the state, which administers the stimulus funds for roads. It is possible that waiting until next year will result in a loss of funding.

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