Marion looks at road conditions, improvements

Feb 18, 2020

MARION — Selectmen heard from an expert on Feb. 18, who said that town roads are in average condition for a community of this area, and that most fixes would just be preventative, but also that maintaining or improving the road would require investing more than the town gets from the state.

Department of Public Works director David Willett said that the goal of the assessment by BETA group, Inc. was to “keep our road system up and running and in good shape.”

Connor Leger, a company representative said that its goals is to help communities maximize value of their road network, or perform the right repair at the right time.

He told Selectmen that there are “preservation techniques where you can actually save money in the long-term.”

BETA took a road inventory on about 28.31 miles of town roadway and about 14 miles of state roadway, using GIS Mapping, and a field inspection to examine existing conditions.

The company uses a machine learning process that takes photos of the road every ten feet, then uploads that data to a system called ManageMyRoads, which converts point data to line data along the length of a road. However, system users can expand points for more data.

Based on the cumulative points, BETA puts every segment into a repair category.

Roads may have no maintenance required, just need routine maintenance (which costs $0.50 per square yard), need preventative maintenance (costing $6/square yard), need minor rehabilitation ($14 per square yard), or need major rehabilitation ($40 per square yard).

Most of the town’s road, some 11.71 miles, needed preventative maintenance.

Selectmen John Waterman said that many roads in town look bad, from a cosmetic perspective. He pointed to Water Street as an example, and asked how that impacts a road’s status.

Leger said that the appearance doesn’t necessarily change  a road’s status, may but deteriorate quicker in the future.

He gave Marion a 75.54 overall rating, about average for New England.

Leger also said it would be about $2.15 million to do all of the roadwork BETA suggested at the cost today. However, he added that “most towns don’t do all of the maintenance in one day, it’s impossible to do.”

The BETA representative also clarified that costs would also need to be checked with an engineer, and that his estimates do not include drainage or sidewalk work.

His company re-inspects roads every 3 to 5 years. In between, the computer program deteriorates the road conditions automatically.

Leger said Marion would have to spend about $350,000 a year to improve the roads, $265,000 for them to stay the same, and $171,000 would have them deteriorate. Marion receives about $175,000 a year, on average from the state for road repairs, and will have to decide how much to contribute beyond that.

Selectman Norm Hills asked if the state funding was based on the life of the town’s roads at all.

Leger responded that it is allocated based on the number of roadway miles, which accounts for 66% of the total, town populations and the number of business employees within the town.

Waterman brought up that Creek Road was estimated at $280,000 to fix a year ago, and said the town is now talking $400,000

That would be because the road falls into major rehabilitation category, Leger said.