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January 15. 2014 10:56PM

Greenville's High Street remains closed until spring

GREENVILLE — Though some of the heavy lifting is done in an effort to keep High Street from sliding into the Souhegan River, the weather has halted the project and the road remains closed.

When heavy rains fell on already saturated soil on March 31, 2010, a large portion of a slope just beneath High Street tumbled into the river below, jeopardizing some of the neighboring homes and making the road unsafe for traffic. Since that event, the road — which serves as a popular shortcut between Greenville and New Ipswich — has been closed.

Working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the town was able to come up with a plan to keep more of the hill from slipping away. The plan was to pound heavy metal sheet piles into the side of the hill, cover the soil with rock or other material and plant some trees to create a more stable slope.

But the town ran into funding issues before the project could start. Originally estimated to cost $1.4 million, the lowest bid came in closer to $1.7 million. Though FEMA agrees to pick up 75 percent of the project and the state had pitched in some grant money as well, the town needed to hold a special town meeting in order to cover an $87,000 shortfall.

In June, the special town meeting was held and voters approved the additional expenditure, and the work began on the project in the summer. An extensive amount of preparation was needed before the sheet piles could be driven into the hill, including the relocation of utility poles. But now the most complicated part of the endeavor, driving the piles without losing more of the hill, has been completed.

From the opposite side of the river, large steel sheets can be seen sticking up out of the ground, creating an interesting focal point on the landscape.

"Safety isn't always pretty," said Greenville Town Administrator Kelly Collins. "But the neighbors are thrilled to death that their houses haven't slid into the river."

But as the weather turned colder and the snow began to fly, the rest of the project had to be put on hold. The rock still needs to be put in place, there is some drainage work necessary, and the trees have to be planted on the slope, said Collins.

High Street will also need some rehabilitation, according to Collins, including paving, which is scheduled for early spring. In order to ensure that frost heaves and road postings don't slow the progress of the road work, the town has already received a waiver to haul in the asphalt.

Collins said the targeted completion date for the project is March, at which time High Street will again be open to traffic.




nfoster@newstote.com


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