The original intent to pave 27 miles of Hull roads between 2018 to 2022 in accordance with a Town Meeting-approved pavement management plan will not be fully accomplished due to a number of factors beyond the town’s control, although progress has been made and will continue through this construction season.
Town Manager Philip Lemnios explained to the Select Board during Department of Public Works Assistant Director John Struzziery’s recent road-paving update that due to “underlying failed conditions of the drainage system in many of the roads, we felt it best [to wait until those issues could be resolved] in order to do a complete fix on those streets,” rather than a temporary repair job. Struzziery, who serves as director of the town’s wastewater treatment facility, is also involved with road projects.
Before the work began, all the roads were rated and prioritized, depending on the level of repairs needed. Addressing the drainage led to increased engineering and material costs that were greater than anticipated, in addition to COVID-related supply issues and higher overall costs that caused further delays, according to Lemnios. All these factors contributed to taking the town “off plan,” he said.
By the end of the current construction season, 17 miles of road work will have been completed under the plan. In addition, Atlantic Avenue paving – consisting of 1.3 miles – is starting now but will take a couple of seasons to complete. Including Atlantic Avenue once finished, the overall paving work represents about 40% of the town’s roads.
This year’s road improvement priorities include Park Avenue/Berkley Road/Rockland Circle, Newport Road, Farina Road, Beacon Road, Point Allerton Avenue, Bay Street, Kenberma Street, and Revere Street.
It’s important to keep in mind, Lemnios said, that the 2020 and 2021 paving seasons were interrupted by COVID.
“This means that we will really have done most of this work in 2018, 2019, and this year,” he said. “I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a community that has completed such a large percentage of its roadway network within such a compressed schedule.”
The total cost for the 18.3 miles, including Atlantic Avenue, is $22.8 million. Hull taxpayers have paid $10 million of that amount, with grants accounting for the remaining $12.8 million.
The local share of road construction costs during this period is 43.8%, with 56.2% funded by grants.
“In short, Hull taxpayers are paying 43 cents of every dollar spent for paving, with grants paying the balance,” Lemnios told The Hull Times following the meeting.
To complete the plan as presented in 2018, another 13 miles of roads remain to be addressed, with about half of those requiring simpler paving work than others. That’s because 14 miles of the planned 27 miles of non-grant funded work have been completed. Of the total 18.3 miles that will have been completed, including Atlantic Avenue, 4.3 miles were funded by grants.
“Once we complete this season’s work, we will evaluate where we stand and what amount of funding will be required to continue on,” Lemnios said. “We will be looking for sources of grant money in order to decrease the burden on local taxpayers.”
Summit Avenue resident Anne Murray expressed concern that if voters are asked for more money to complete the pavement plan, “people living on the streets that have already been done may not vote for additional funding.”
Select Board Chair Jennifer Constable noted that this kind of situation and related lack of funding is not unique to Hull.
“We all share in some disappointment that the plan won’t be completed as voted upon, but now we can focus on trying to find additional funding sources other than taxpayers in the next year,” she said.
While such a comprehensive paving undertaking involves a great deal of work and impacts residents living on the streets under repair, “It will make such a big difference once the work is completed,” Struzziery said.
A study of Samoset and Manomet avenues will come later, according to Lemnios. These streets are both “in rough shape, and getting worse,” Constable said.