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September 12. 2012 2:32AM

Greenville gets funds to fix 2010 flood damage

GREENVILLE — It’s been more than two years since floodwaters sent the slope along High Street crashing into the river below, but funding is now in place for repairs that could begin as soon as this winter.

In April 2010, a 100-foot section of a hill next to a house at 46 High St. gave way after heavy rain and slid into the Souhegan River, taking with it most of the yard on one side of the house and forcing the town to close the road, which serves as a popular route to New Ipswich.

For the town of Greenville, finding a way to fix the hill to keep further slides from happening was pretty easy. Large “sheet piles” — essentially walls of steel — would have to be pounded into the ground to provide some stability and the surface would be covered with large stone rip-rap to prevent the soil from breaking lose in the future, according to Town Administrator Kelley Collins.

What hasn’t been easy, however, has been finding the money to fund the nearly $1.5 million project.

“People don’t understand that this a huge project for a town like Greenville,” Collins said. “It’s going to cost more than my entire operating budget for the year to fix this.”

But after more than two years of negotiations, grant applications and engineering work, the town finally has the funding in place, Collins said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, will be picking up just over $1 million of the cost, and the state and a community block grant through Southwest Regional Planning will cover the rest.

With the money lined up, Collins said the engineering firm has been hired and the documents necessary to put the project out to bid are being drawn up.

“We hope to have the bid specifications by October and to put it out to bid by November,” Collins said. “It’s possible that the project could start this winter.”

But there are still a number of hoops to jump through, including securing the appropriate permits through the state Department of Environmental Service, because the project involves the river. And the construction company that’s chosen will have to determine whether it’s going to work from a barge parked under the hill or find some other way to get the equipment into the site.

“Because of the instability of the hillside, they’re going to have to start at the bottom and work their way up,” Collins said.

Public Service of New Hampshire is going to have to move its utility poles to the other side of the street before the project starts, and because High Street was never officially plotted, some maneuvering is going to have to be done to ensure the rights-of-way are clearly established.

Collins said the road will remain closed until the project nears completion and it is possible that during construction, more of the road will be closed as well. It’s likely there will be a public hearing held before those decisions are made, Collins said.

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Nancy Bean Foster may be reached at nfoster@newstote.com.


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