This year's limited release of Chapter 90 road repair funding is leaving towns scrambling to fund necessary repairs.
Since Gov. Deval Patrick's administration chose to release only two-thirds of the $300 million the state legislature had allocated for road repair funding, many local towns have been stretched thin, causing some to look to alternative sources of funding to fill the void.
Pepperell Highway Superintendent Peter Shattuck said the state funding is "never enough."
Delays in receiving the funds this year were particularly problematic, Shattuck said.
"I don't know what they're doing. They used to get it out a lot quicker. We used to have a number to go to Town Meeting with and now we go with a fictitious number and we don't know how much we're getting," Shattuck said. "It puts us between a rock and a hard place. We're guessing."
Pepperell received $416,438, which Shattuck said has already been put toward hot-topping a section of Maple Street as well as Wheeler Street, Bayberry Street and River Road.
Projects at Railroad Square and Hollis Street, while covered by this year's funding, will have to wait until the spring because delays in the release of the funding reduced the time frame in which the repairs could be done.
Releasing the money late can make it difficult for towns to hire people to repair the roads, Shattuck said.
"Now every town wants the hot-topping people because they hold out on the funding. There's just no way that they can get to every town with the amount of pavers they have. There are only a handful of companies that do this work," Shattuck said.
In Townsend, selectmen are searching for a way to fund a comprehensive road repair plan that would both detail how to repair the roads and help keep them maintained.
Officials in Townsend said they are coming to terms with the fact that they will need to look beyond Chapter 90 funding to finance road repairs from now on, possibly turning to taxpayer dollars to supplement state funding.
"We can't just wring our hands and say we need the money and hope it falls from the sky. We need to have a plan for what we're going to do," Selectman Sue Lisio said at a joint meeting to discuss the problem on Sept. 17.
This fiscal year, Townsend received $426,174 to put toward road repair.
According to Highway Superintendent Ed Kukkula, this was enough to pave only a small fraction of the roads, while others fall further into disrepair.
"Paving one road or even two roads every year isn't going to let us maintain our roads. It's a constant battle," Kukkula said at the meeting.
The money has been used for reclamation, resurfacing and drainage improvements on Wallace Hill Road, as well as for repaving about 1.3 miles of Dudley Road.
The Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and Capital Planning Committees are also considering whether to put some of the remaining funds toward hiring an outside consultant to put together a road repair plan, which Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan estimated could cost about $30,000.
Groton received $504,767, which has gone toward repaving several roads throughout town.
The Groton Department of Public Works director did not respond to a request for comment.
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