Mendon Takes Itself off State’s TIP List
By Michelle Sanford Staff Reporter/Columnist · November 09, 2011
A number of years back, Mendon was placed on the state's Transportation Improvement Program's (TIP) list to repair 8,600 feet of Hartford Ave. East. In order to qualify for the program, the town was mandated to fund 10 percent for the engineering costs totaling $500,000. The entire project was estimated to cost $5 million, of which the state would fund the remaining $4.5 million.
As a result, voters over the past several years have passed articles at various town meetings to transfer monies from available funds into the Hartford Ave. East reserve account to pay for those engineering costs. However, now most of the funds in that account, which currently totals $82,500, are being used to clean up the Mendon's snow and ice deficit.
At the request of Highway Surveyor Alan Tetreault, the Hartford Ave. East project was taken off the TIP list because the state had continually been deferring the funding for the project. "They'd say it was five years away, then another five years away," said Highway Department Clerk Linda Hawkes.
Prior to removing Mendon from the TIP list, the state asked Tetreault to fund a $26,000 undertaking associated with the engineering without even guaranteeing the project would be completed.
Tetreault said he had several meetings with state officials in charge of the program who told him it was going nowhere. "They told me I was doing the right thing," he said of taking Mendon off the list. "The state's broke. They're not approving any new projects and I was sick of chasing it." In addition, with the town having its current financial difficulties, Tetreault admitted it would be tough coming up with the $500,000 any time soon.
Tetreault discussed the issue with the Board of Selectmen and told them they should use the reserve account's funding toward something else. Now, at the November 15 Special Town Meeting, pending voter approval, a large portion of the $82,500 account will be transferred to fund Mendon's snow and ice deficit.
Although the TIP project is more or less kaput, the Mendon Highway Department was able to complete some work on Hartford Ave. East over the summer, which should hopefully last between eight to ten years, and has improved the quality of the road.
With his budget continually cut for the last 12 years, Tetreault said he's doing his best to maintain and repair the town's roads but it hasn't been easy. "I rely on what little money I have in my budget and Chapter 90 monies," he said.
Most recently he relied on the efforts of his own staff to help repair the town's 100 foot by 60 foot salt shed. Because the work was done in house, Tetreault estimates they saved about $5,000 and spent less than $500 to fix it. Another project recently completed was the Highway Department's building on Inman Hill which was in need of a $7,000 roof repair. Funding for it was approved at the Annual Town Meeting last May.