Huntington sets plan for Chapter 90 road funds

Cullen Road Huntington, Ma (Google Maps)

HUNTINGTON, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Highway Superintendent Charles “Chip” Dazelle said this year, with the $163,000 he’s getting in Chapter 90 funds, he’s going to reclaim Cullen Road, which is adjacent to Historic North Hall in Huntington. That work will begin in August.

Dazelle said they’ll have a big grinder come in to grind up the dirt and blacktop and pulverize the rocks. Then they’ll add calcium and regrind it again, which makes it hard, and will give it a good surface for black top.

“If you don’t’ start with a good base,” Dazelle said, “It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.”

After paving Cullen Road up to the top, they are going to work on the intersection with Allen Coit Road and Searle Road, and then go up about 1,500 feet of Allen Coit with a skim coat. Dazelle said the whole road needs to be done but that’s all the money he has.
Dazelle said it costs $83,000 to blacktop a mile of road an inch and a half. Since he became highway superintendent in 2010, he’s blacktopped 12 miles, and says he has another 12 miles to go. Altogether, Huntington has 37 miles of road, 25 of which are paved and the other 12 miles are dirt roads.

Two years ago, Governor Charlie Baker added an extra $100 million to the $200 million in Chapter 90 funds statewide. That gave Huntington an extra $82,000, enough for another mile of road, which allowed him to redo County Road. This year, the extra funds are not in the budget.

When Dazelle saw that the University of Massachusetts was getting $513 million in this year’s budget (down from a requested $545 million), he was particularly frustrated. “it drives me bonkers,” he said. “If you don’t have roads, people can’t respond in an emergency,” Dazelle, who is also the deputy fire chief in Huntington, said.

Dazelle has been successful in obtaining grants for the town. Two years ago, he got almost a million in grants for Pleasant Street and Basket Street right in downtown Huntington. That work, which allowed them to redo the roads and put in new sidewalks is almost complete. The final paving on Pleasant Street will be done Tuesday, and then there will just be the driveway anchorings left, he said.

This year, he also received $300,000 from the MassDOT’s Municipal Small Bridge Grant program to repair the Searle Road bridge over Pond Brook.He said the engineering and bidding on the project will be done this winter, and he hopes the work will begin in the spring.

Dazelle has compiled a prioritized list of the roads in town which need work, and revisits it every spring to factor in winter damage. At the top of the list is Goss Hill Road, which leads to Littleville Dam. “It’s so far out of shape, it will cost a little over $3 million to fix,” he said, factoring in total construction, tree work, and blasting. He said it’s going to have to be done in sections, and he hopes to start it next year, “1,000 feet at a time.”

Dazelle said he understands when people come to him to speak about the road conditions, but he doesn’t have the money that’s needed. He said the 351 highway superintendents across the state don’t have enough clout.

“What we need is public support, letters and petitions to the governor, senators and representatives,” Dazelle said, suggesting people remember to petition Huntington’s new Senator Adam Hinds in Pittsfield. “We’re getting nowhere,” he added. He said 10,000 or 15,000 emails might make the difference.