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Foster makes plea for infrastructure funds

Dec. 19, 2013
<b>A photo in the slide show presentation made by Selectman Richard Foster displays a drainage grate sinking into the ground.</b> <br>Reminder Publications submitted photo

A photo in the slide show presentation made by Selectman Richard Foster displays a drainage grate sinking into the ground.
Reminder Publications submitted photo

By Chris Maza


LONGMEADOW – At the Dec. 16 Select Board meeting, Selectman Richard Foster made a presentation regarding the town’s infrastructure at which he stressed the need for Longmeadow to implement a town wide asset management system.

With such a system, he said, the town would be able to identify all of its infrastructure needs. It would also aid in the development of a plan for rectifying the issues that exist as well as preventative maintenance.

“We can’t plan until we identify everything that needs to be done,” he said. “We have a ton of stuff that tells us what needs to be done, but there’s still more and we still don’t have a full picture.”

Town Manager Stephen Crane informed the board that the town would be moving to a web-based management system such as the one Foster described in early 2014. That program, he explained, would include mobile device capabilities that would allow members of the community to report issues directly into the system.

Even with a management system, Foster said the board must start a “dog and pony show” on Beacon Hill in order to gain additional funding for infrastructure projects and look for other revenue solutions because at the current rate of expense, the town would never be able to get in front of its infrastructure problems.

Giving the board a brief overview of some of the existing challenges facing the town in terms of finances related to infrastructure, he said the town would have to increase its Capital Improvement Program from $1 million to $4 to $5 million.

The town has $300 million in identified deficiencies, he said, and currently 22 percent of the $14.4 million in requests in the five-year capital plan are designated for non-infrastructure purchases, such as fleet vehicles. At the current rate of repair, it would take the town 134 years to address the known deficiencies, not counting any new issues or emergencies that may occur.

Foster said that since a 2009 study, the town’s roads have been degrading rapidly with the expense of fixing those roads increasing by $8,109 daily.

With more than 95 miles of roads, 75 percent of which are residential, he said the town should be repaving approximately eight miles of roadway annually in order to keep up with the preventative maintenance. Mill and overlay repaving, a standard process in which two inches of asphalt are lifted and new surface laid down, costs between $250,000 and $350,000 per mile.

That preventative maintenance, however, is crucial and ultimately saves dollars in the long run. Presenting a chart on the lifecycle of the pavement, he said spending $1 on preservation of the roads prevents $6 to $10 in expense to reconstruct a road.

The town also has 99 miles of water lines, including 2.4 miles of four-inch pipe and 32 miles of six-inch pipe, making up 35 percent of the total water system. Most towns, he said, have been using eight-inch pipe as the new standard; however, the town has replaced just two miles of six-inch line and less than a half inch of four-inch line.

At that rate, he said, it would take 80 years to replace all of the six-inch piping and 181 years to switch out the four-inch lines. In addition to that, the town would still have 65 miles of eight-inch pipe that would need periodic replacing.

Most of the 83 miles of sewer lines are more than 50 years old and are susceptible to root intrusion and groundwater infiltration, among other things. When groundwater gets into the pipes, the town is charged for that additional flow.

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