Thursday December 27, 2012

HALIFAX -- More than a year after Tropical Storm Irene, the town is beginning to focus on roads that need to be repaired.

The town just recently began the application process for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to gain funding for several road projects that could cause issues for Halifax in the future.

"We didn’t get around to applying for [grants] because we were so busy with flood stuff," said Halifax Selectboard Chairman Lewis Sumner.

At the Selectboard meeting on Dec. 18, Halifax Recovery Administrator Christina Moore prepared a draft letter of intent listing four roads that to be considered by the HMGP. These projects include work on Winchester Road, Reed Hill Road, Pennel Hill Road and Hall Road.

The letter of intent needs to be received by FEMA by Jan. 18 and the town would be responsible for a 25-percent match. It will be sent to State Hazard Mitigation Officer Ray Doherty.

The projects had been discussed by the Selectboard in the past. Pricing had been determined and announced at the Dec. 18 meeting. Winchester Road improvements are expected to cost $70,000, the Reed Hill Road project is estimated to cost $100,000, the Pennel Hill Road repairs are expected to cost $10,000 and Hall Road is estimated to cost $5,000.

"I believe that everything that we’re looking at has to do with culverts, either replacements or enhancements," Edee Edwards, Selectboard member, told the Reformer on Wednesday.


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She explained how the HMGP funding could be used for assistance besides Irene recovery projects.

"The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, in its current round, doesn’t have to be damages from just Irene. It can be damages from previous floods, which is the case for at least some of them," she said in reference to the roads that would be included in the letter of intent.

Edwards, who acted as Selectboard chairwoman because Sumner wasn’t able to make it to the Dec. 18 meeting, mentioned that the requirements for the HMGP had to include data that these damages could be "problematic over a course of time."

"I think the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program should offer some opportunities to strengthen the community and infrastructure. Overall, it’s definitely beneficial for the future."

Damages in the town from Irene have caused the Halifax Selectboard to focus on bridge and road projects that were in dire need of repair after the storm.

FEMA has assisted the town over the past year with improvements after the wreckage.

"A couple more popped up since then," said Sumner.

He told the Reformer that some of the projects listed in the letter of intent may have been a result of Irene, while some were not. The problems with the roads were not presented to the Selectboard until after the initial damages were reported after Irene.

The next construction project the Selectboard discussed at the Dec. 18 meeting is the Hale Road Bridge.

The bid for this project is to be awarded on the Selectboard meeting slated for Jan. 3, which is an unusual day for the board to meet. The meeting had to be moved due to New Year’s Day.

"That is the final Irene damage project," said Edwards.

Construction for the project will start "when the bidder feels conditions are such that they could proceed."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.