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Real quandry

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When money is tight, the last thing you want to do is waste any. With that in mind, town council made the right decision Monday to scratch the resurfacing of several north-end roads from this year's capital budget.

There's no question these roads are in bad shape and clearly north-end residents are getting fed up given the number of budget requests the town received calling for them to be fixed. The problem, unfortunately, is what lies underneath them—and that's where the wasting of money potentially comes into play.

As pointed out by Operations and Facilities manager Travis Rob, these streets lie over so-called ductile iron watermains with two-bolt connections that apparently are very susceptible to failure, particularly if you disturb the ground around them.

In other words, compacting the road surface to get it prepared for resurfacing likely would cause the watermains to break. That, in turn, would mean having to dig them up for repairs—driving up the cost of the project. Worse still, if they didn't break right away, the town eventually would have to tear up the new surface to repair or replace them sometime in the future.

And in fact, this very issue arose when the town opted to resurface two blocks of Front Street some years ago.

Deciding not to resurface these streets this year does make the most sense. The big drawback, of course, is that the problem simply is being kicked down the road and certainly will get worse with each passing year—prompting Coun. Perry to wonder if the streets will deteriorate to the point where they might have to be closed while the town waits to get the funding in place to replace the infrastructure and roads at the same time, as currently is being done elsewhere in town.

A real quandry, to be sure, and one the town (i.e., taxpayers) will pay the price for some day.

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