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Bid for Salem road improvements could be boon for short roads

SALEM — Bids for the town's 2014 road improvement program came in almost $500,000 lower than expected, and that could be good news for residents who live on some of the town's shorter roads.

At the March 11 town election, voters will be asked to approve about $4.5 million for the 2014 portion of the town's 10-year road improvement program.

The bids for work planned under the 2014 improvements came in $459,756 below what was estimated, according to Everett McBride, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

"We, as a board, said we would maintain that number (of $4.5 million) and if the bids came in below that, we would pave more roads," said McBride.

Selectmen had previously agreed to using any additional funds to address shorter roads in town since the 10-year plan does not address roads under 500 feet.

Town Engineering Director Robert Puff recommended a number of roads for reconstruction or mill and overlaying.

Selectmen approved Puff's recommendation for the reconstruction of Lynndale Avenue, Crescent Circle, Easy Street, Chase Street and Mahoney Avenue, and mill and overlaying for Lois Lane, Sorenson Road, Sylvan Drive Extension, Gardner Avenue, West Street, Bounty Lane, Griffin Street and Hall Avenue.

"This adds approximately 6,600 linear feet to the 2014 list," said Puff. "That is almost 42,000 feet of work we will be doing in 2014. Obviously, we're accelerating a lot of work as a result of this money that is available as a result of the bid."

Selectman Pat Hargreaves was the lone selectman who voted against Puff's road recommendations.

His main issue was with the reconstruction of Mahoney Avenue.

Hargreaves said Mahoney Avenue is extremely short and that it might be more cost-effective to reconstruct the road at the same time as nearby McLauglin Road and Wells Avenue.

"The problem I see with the roads is that we are doing a piece here and a piece there," said Hargreaves.Puff said he was only making recommendations to the board, and that the board had the final say on what roads get done. He noted, however, that McLaughlin Road is not scheduled for improvements until 2023.Selectman Michael Lyons said that while Mahoney Avenue is a short road, if it is not done in the coming year, the town might not get it done at all.

"If we drop Mahoney, it's gone," said Lyons. "It's off the plan, and it's not in the 10-year plan at all."

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