by Charles Kelleher Harris
OXFORD-Department of Public Works Director Sean Divoll revealed he results of a recent pavement management study to the Board of Selectmen at their Jan.15 meeting.
“During the development process we learned many things. One of the key things learned is that our annual expenditure on road maintenance and repair is not enough to maintain the overall pavement condition average,” said Divoll.
Through a PowerPoint presentation, Divoll showed how action needed to be taken quickly in order to save the town potentially millions of dollars in coming years.
Divoll explained that responsible pavement management was, “the practice of planning for pavement maintenance and rehabilitation with the goal of maximizing the value and life of a pavement network.”
Divoll used a chart to show the projected deterioration of paved roads.
He explained that there were typically two types of paved roads: hot mix asphalt, a road paved and compacted with typical asphalt layers, and a second type, surface treated, which is road built up over time with layers of oil and sand or oil and stone.
He then showed the various stages of damage to streets and the necessary repairs and attached price tags to these repairs.
Divoll’s point was that the earlier a road is fixed, the better.
When a paved road shows just a few signs of wear, such as surface cracks, a simple and cheap sealing or patching can be applied.
However as the progression of damaged conditions escalates, so does the cost of repairing them. The obvious greatest cost is total reclamation and reconstruction of a road.
Divoll’s presentation included projected costs of road maintenance totaling between five and eight million dollars.
He also explained that roads considered “of highest benefit to the town” were given priority.
These include roads with high traffic volume, low repair cost, longer repair life expectancy, and poor road conditions.
Divoll completed his presentation by giving several recommendations, including budgeting adequate funds to achieve stated goals, implementation of full spectrum of pavement treatments and continuing to use pavement management system to “help plan an optimal road program.”
Although Divoll said that “the condition of paved roads in Oxford will decline without an increase in the current level of roadway spending,” he was not making an official appeal for a budget increase.
“My presentation was not a budget presentation and was not a plea for additional funding,” said Divoll, “Rather my presentation was a ‘state of the union’ address regarding roadway management in Oxford.”
“The presentation was excellent,” said selectman Jennie L. Caissie, “[Divoll] is very conservative with the taxpayer’s money.”
However, Caissie commented that additional funding for Divoll’s pavement management would be hard to come by.
“I can’t think of a worse time in my adult life to ask for more taxes,” Caissie said, adding that the town would need to find “other places” for the needed funds.
“I’m glad he brought it to light,” said selectman Henry J. LaMountain, commenting, “[The presentation] gives us a baseline of what we need to do for our roads.”
LaMountain was also heavily opposed to raising taxes in order to obtain additional funds.
“I would never, never support [raising taxes],” he said, “I believe that if we need additional funds, maybe there are cuts we can make. If we don’t smarten up we’re going to be hurting.”