West Stockbridge to repave Swamp Road, and try to take on all roads, despite expense


WEST STOCKBRIDGE — Swamp Road takes a beating every day from traffic, especially tractor-trailers.

Sewer and water mains beneath it speed the deterioration of the pavement. And every eight to 10 years, the town's Highway Department has to repave it from Main Street to the Richmond town line.

Now, that time has come again, said Curt Wilton, the town's highway superintendent.

Wilton and his crew will bid out the job next month, and the work, estimated at $165,000, likely will take place over two days in October.

But this might be the last time the road can get away with just a repaving.

"It's a cycle," Wilton said. "This will probably be the last time adding a layer before having to grind it all up and start over. It just kind of crumbles after so may overlays."

Swamp Road previously was paved in 2008, and an expansion last year of the Pittsfield Municipal Airport at the north end of the road took a toll on it. Wilton estimates about 30 to 40 trips per day by loaded trucks.

And West Stockbridge has to pitch in taxpayer money for part of these jobs, since state road money comes up short every year, something Wilton and highway superintendents are pushing to change. They've got the Massachusetts Municipal Association behind them.

"We only get $153,000 per year," Wilton said of an amount that has remained fairly level since 2012 with the exception of a boost in 2015, when the state's total road money temporarily was hiked to $300 million.

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"You can't do anything with the amount of money they give you," said Wilton, who has been a highway chief for 25 years.

"It takes almost $200,000 [to pave] one mile. Swamp Road is about one mile. We've been asking [the state] for $300 million to be divvied up, but they've only been giving us $200 million over the last 10 to 15 years."

That meant $8 million in 2020 to be divided by cities and towns in Berkshire County.

Wilton said it's not enough, especially since the cost of materials and labor is rising. Despite this, at a recent Select Board meeting, Wilton said that town is growing more aggressive about maintenance.

"We need to get at these roads and attack them," he said. "They're failing faster than we can repair them."

Wilton said it is some of the peripheral roads that are in the worst shape, since they've missed their rotation, and that he is working with the Finance Committee to come up with a three- to five-year capital plan that would be affordable for residents, while still tackling all the roads.

To get all the town's 41 miles of roadway in good shape would cost about $3.5 million.

"That's a scary number," he said.

Wilton says he is keeping busy. Up next month: chip sealing of Baker Street and Cross Road. Both are 1 mile long.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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