Athens to pave last mile - of dirt - on Route 35

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ATHENS — Athens is finally going to "close the gap."

The town accepted the low bid Thursday to pave the last dirt portion of Route 35, the main east-west road through town. The road links Route 121 in Rockingham to Route 30 in Townshend.

The paving project marks the end of an at-times muddy era. The state road has been slowly paved over the years, said Road Commissioner Tom Taylor, and the final mile is finally going to get its pavement this fall. He said Route 35 is about four miles long through Athens, and while it once had all been dirt, it was paved bit by bit.

Taylor said the town received two bids; Bazin Brothers Trucking of Westminster was the low bidder at $236,000 for the paving. He said Bazin Brothers told him the company could pave the road in two to three weeks.

"I'm sick of thumping on that road," said Taylor. "The maintenance of that portion of 35 is way out of proportion," he said. "It's time to close the gap."

He said the winter and summer maintenance of the road would be reduced by the paving project, something he said he and the town budget was looking forward to.

Taylor said the Athens Select Board had approved the project about two years ago, but he had to apply to the Agency of Transportation for matching funds to pave the road. "We had to wait our turn for the paving money," he said. "You might wait 10 years," he said.

He said the agency awarded Athens $175,000 to pave the last mile of dirt road.

The town had been doing prep work on the road this summer, spending some $7,500 on improving drainage and $5,000 on culverts.

Town Clerk Darlene Wyman said on Monday — the deadline for the road paving bids — that the town was worried it wouldn't get any bids for the project since it was late in the year and would have to postpone the paving project until next year. But Taylor said the town received two bids, and both were within the town's budget.

Taylor said there had been some grumbling that by paving the last stretch of dirt road the town was inviting speeders.

"I know some people are worried about speeders, but we've got that problem already," he said.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or call 802 254-2311,

ext. 154.

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