Reconstructing George Hill Road could cost $7 million


Reconstructing George Hill Road could cost $7 million
Residents living along George Hill Road have been dealing with potholes and poor drainage for years. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

GRAFTON – George Hill Road is a 2-mile winding road off Route 140.

There are houses and farms and forests along this scenic road.

On the road itself? Potholes, cracks and poor drainage.

During a community outreach meeting on March 28, residents sounded off on the road’s condition – years of deferred maintenance, neighbors altering stone walls that diverted stormwater into neighbors’ backyards; a narrow road getting narrower from erosion.

“Enough is enough,” said resident Kevin Moriarty.

Town Administrator Evan Brassard and Department of Public Works Director Paul Cournoyer, who led the meeting, fielded their concerns and outlined possible solutions to getting the roadway fixed.

According to Brassard, the reason repairs to George Hill Road have been deferred is because it’s not considered a major road. When funds such as Chapter 90 become available, those funds go to projects that have higher priority.

“We do want to fix this road,” said Select Board member Ray Mead. “What we need to do is to pay for it. We can go to Town Meeting [and ask] to borrow $7 million, at $96 per taxpayer, or we need creative financing.

“We need 500 people to come to Town Meeting and get this approved,” he said.

The question about the George Hill Road project will come before residents at Town Meeting on May 8, and at the annual Town Election on May 16.

Preliminary plans for George Hill Road

The current surface would undergo a full reconstruction; the new road would be 20 feet wide with a more efficient stormwater infrastructure. 

Stone walls along the roadway would be maintained; trees would be removed only when necessary.

Brassard said he’s in favor of having this project done in one year; to have it stretch over two or three years would mean the costs would “rise exponentially.”

How to pay for it

Brassard estimated that the project will cost about $7 million.

During the Select Board meeting on April 11, members approved an option that would pay for the project over a period of 15 years using the town’s road stabilization fund, a debt exclusion and a possible MassWorks grant that the town is currently pursuing.

Under this option, $315,000 would be taken from the road stabilization fund; $315,000 would be part of the debt exclusion.

If there is no state grant, the average cost per household would be $48.26 per year for 15 years. If the town secures a state grant for $2 million, the average cost per household would be $33.02 per year.

“We’re going to do this,” said Mead. “The board has every intention of supporting this project. We know how bad this road is, how bad it’s going to be … We’re going to make George Hill Road a safe and efficient road.”

Once financing is secured, Cournoyer said the process of going out to bid for contractors, meeting with town boards, would get underway, with the target of having the project begin the following spring.

In the meantime, Cournoyer said that DPW crews will be out at George Hill Road later this spring to patch the holes.

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