On August 30, 2023

Hartland board discusses flood, infrastructure issues 

 

By Curt Peterson

Hartland Select Board faces the same major challenges all other boards face – getting things done, and finding the money to pay for them. Monday night’s meeting involved a litany of infrastructure issues that have to be dealt with and funded.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster funding for Hartland’s flood damage has been elusive — the July 17 storm was swiftly made eligible, but Hartland, strangely unscathed in that event, was pounded on July 21 and suffered a lot of road and culvert damage. 

FEMA has yet to declare Hartland’s storm damage, four days later, eligible for emergency or repair funding, although interim town manager Martin Dole said, “Gov. Scott is working hard to get us the designation.”

Select Board chair Phil Hobbie and Dole have decided to push ahead with road and drainage work anyway, while documenting a file to use when, and if, the necessary FEMA designation is declared.

Dole told the Mountain Times that individuals don’t have to worry about their driveway repairs. Lack of disaster designation for the town doesn’t affect their eligibility for reimbursement.

Infrastructure repairs are also impaired by a highway department manpower shortage. Dole said the crew is short one person, and vacations have meant some days there are only two people working on the roads.

He said it’s hard to find prospective road crew members who have the necessary CDL driving license.

Dole has issued Requests for Proposals from third-party contractors for repairs to two of the town’s roads that the highway crew can’t handle, hoping the FEMA designation and funding are imminent.

Although voters approved burying utilities at the new intersection where Routes 5 and 12 meet Quechee Road and split. Hobbie warned residents they will continue to see the current wires-bearing pole in the center of the intersection until the utilities actually install the wiring in new underground conduits, and take down the visible wires and pole. 

Rita Seto at Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission is persistently reminding the utilities they need to get the job done, Dole said.

Seto has advised the Select Board to adopt an “underground utilities” ordinance to prevent future above-ground pole and/or wire installations at the intersection. The board approved the proposal — if there are no petitions against, it will automatically become effective in 60 days. Any future utility lines within 600 feet of the intersection will have to be buried, according to the ordinance. 

Dole reported that “change orders” incurring ex-contract costs have amounted to only $51,500 so far, which he called “not bad” for a project the size of the $1,500,000 intersection reconfiguration.

Omission of intersection lighting in project design continues to be an open issue, although Hobbie reported underground preparations for future installation of lighting have been completed, and Green Mountain Power will be providing proposals for prospective poles and lights, and the state has indicated any permit requests will be green-lighted to avoid big delays.

Dole said Nott’s Excavating, the major reconfiguration contractors, expect to have the entire project, sans the lighting solution, completed in 2-3 weeks, right on schedule.

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