Saugus sidewalks fuel controversy

SAUGUS – Concrete or asphalt?That’s the big question for residents of Hamilton Street, which underwent major water-main and road-surface reconstruction and currently is getting the final touches such as granite curbstones, sidewalks and tree plantings.At issue is whether the sidewalks along Hamilton Street should be laid with cement or asphalt ? a price difference of roughly $205,000.According to the Board of Selectmen, if the money isn’t used for the cement upgrade, it could be spent on repaving the many side streets off Hamilton Street that took the brunt of traffic during the $1.7 million construction project.Paul Ross, the project engineer for Camp Dresser & McKee, said he personally surveyed the side streets and acknowledged some are in disrepair from the heavy traffic and for not having been repaved in the past 20 years. He developed a priority list for the side streets, should the selectmen decide to use the money for that purpose and stick with asphalt on Hamilton Street.Ross listed the top six most-in-need of resurfacing as Rhodes Street, Pace Road, Sumner Road, Ella Street, Riverbank Road and Woodbury Avenue. Repaving only those streets would cost an estimated $140,000, he said.Ross said Atherton Street is in relatively good shape compared to the other six. At a previous board meeting, he had been asked by Town Meeting member and Atherton Street resident Maureen Dever to survey conditions on that street. Although Dever complained of poor surface conditions, Ross opined that a deep crack running down the center of the road could be patched at little cost or effort.Ross said the decision must be made soon, during May at the latest, because the price of asphalt continues to rise with the price of oil. He noted the inflation could result in another $32,000 added to the project cost.The estimated $205,000 price tag for concrete instead of asphalt sidewalks includes the cost of removing asphalt sidewalks newly laid along Hamilton Street. The price is impacted further because concrete sidewalks are thicker than asphalt pathways ? four inches thick along the sidewalk and six inches at driveway entrances, which must bear the weight of automobiles, he said.Ripping out the asphalt sidewalks already laid on Hamilton Street would be a “waste” of $15,000, said Ross, noting the labor of asphalt removal is approximately $10,000. Labor and funds already spent on the sidewalks brings the total estimate of asphalt removal to $25,000, he said.The concrete that would replace the asphalt and continue the length of Hamilton Street would cost an estimated $177,448, plus $28,000 in engineering fees, for a final cost of $205,000, he explained.Town Meeting will get an opportunity to decide how to spend the taxpayer dollars ? on concrete sidewalks or side street repairs.

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