Planning Board Minutes for Special Meeting of August 26, 2015

                                SULLIVAN PLANNING BOARD      
                Minutes of the Special Meeting of August 26, 2015

The meeting was called to order at 4:01 p.m. by Chairman Leslie Casey.  In addition to the chairman, members, Laura Lewandowski and Ann Sweet were present.  Laura Merrifield represented the selectmen.  Absent were members Stacy Glover and Mark Smith.  Community members present included:  Marsha Cook, Becky Cummings, Joseph Lewandowski, Jim and Ginni McByrne, Wendy Pelletier, Randall Smith, Roger Sweet, and Bob Switzer.

The purpose of the special meeting was to meet with John Kallfelz, the engineer for DOT District 4, to learn about the process by which state roads are chosen for repairs.  Chairman Casey spoke of the planning board’s concern for looking out for the well-being of the citizens of Sullivan and wanted to know how the poor condition of Centre Street, the through road between Routes 9 and 10, which is a state road, could be ameliorated.

Mr. Kallfelz remarked that the funding that was once adequate for attention to state roads like Sullivan’s Centre Street is no longer enough to do very much repaving in any one town.  Costs are up and the budget has been level-funded.  The recent increase in the gas tax has helped some, but much of that has been apportioned to the construction of I-93.  He says he does what he can with the resources he has been granted.  The state has a ten-year plan for highways, and a committee at Southwest Region Planning Commission solicits information from member towns for major projects.  Repaving roads is not usually a large enough project to fit into the ten-year plan.  Centre Street is a tier 4 road, Route 9 is a tier 2 road, and 123 through Stoddard is a tier 3 road.  In District 4 the plan is to pave a town every 10 years.  He said Centre Street had been repaved in 2006, so it will be on the district’s plan for repaving in 2017.  

Chairman Casey asked for questions after expressing her appreciation for Mr. Kallfelz’s explanations of the funding situation.

Bob Switzer of the ZBA asked what level of paving would be done.  Mr. Kallfelz said it would be “paver shim.”  Shimming would be done in advance.  Then an overlay would be applied.  But Centre Street is not a “built” roadway, and the paving will last at best 10 years.  Cracks are bound to re-emerge.  Grinding in addition would cost $400,000 per mile.

Roger Sweet, also ZBA, pointed out that there is very heavy trucking every day on Centre Street and that the reconstruction of the bridge on Route 9 would likely result in redirection of traffic on to Centre Street,  further taxing an already heavily taxed road.  Mr. Kallfelz said heavy trucks traveling on Route 9 would be detoured to 202 and 101 during construction.  Other traffic would be diverted on to Valley Road.  He said heavy trucking requires 8-10 inches of pavement rather than the usual five-inch applied to most roads.  “The depth of pavement is critical.”

Marsha Cook, library trustee, asked how state roads are designated.  Mr. Kallfelz said that the highway commission worked with the legislature to make the designations, which were revised with legislative approval in 1945.

Chairman Casey stated that this state road is the only way Sullivan residents can reach designations outside of town.  People in rural areas drive long distances and endure large expenses for car repairs when the roads are in poor shape.  Mr. Kallfelz said it was, he guessed, a tradeoff between higher taxes for more highway funding vs. lower taxes and more auto repair expense. He reported that there are 660 miles of state roads in District 4.  Thirty-five have been reclaimed and reconstructed.  DOT is chipping away at the rest.

Laura Merrifield, selectman, asked whether weight restrictions can be placed on state roads.  Not in NH, except in the spring, and even then there are exceptions.

Chairman Casey asked whether the state highway department shares experiences with other states.  She has observed that in rural New York State, the rural roads are in superb condition. Bob Switzer suggested that soils may differ, and they affect road conditions.

Laura Merrifield asked how people in town can prepare for expected paving in 2017.  John Kallfelz said there will be a letter to the town outlining the possible schedule for different sections.

John Kallfelz said he appreciated meeting with people in Sullivan.  He wants people to know that he travels all the state roads in the district regularly and is familiar with conditions.  He said to call his office (352-2302) if there are potholes, which will be fixed quickly.  He also suggested that Patrick McKenna, an assistant commissioner, is well versed in the financial situation with highways and would be glad to respond to questions.  Additionally, he spoke of the upcoming meeting of the Transportation Advisory Committee Wednesday, September 16, at 3 p.m. in the SWRP offices.  He said towns can express their concerns at that meeting.

Chairman Casey thanked members of the public for coming and Mr. Kallfelz  for meeting with members of the community.  She said the planning board would consider all that the members have learned from him.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 4:57 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Ann Sweet, Secretary