BRUNSWICK, Maine — The cost to repair damage to town roads from punishing rains in mid-August is now pegged at $200,000, twice the amount previously estimated by town officials.
Town councilors on Tuesday unanimously approved appropriating money from the town’s general fund to cover repairs to culverts that were either destroyed or irreparably damaged by intense flooding.
Culverts beneath River and Raymond roads collapsed during the storm, which dropped more than 6 inches of water on towns and cities in Cumberland County in just a few hours.
There was additional damage done to Hacker, Lunt, and Collingsbrook roads.
An initial estimate of $100,000 in damages was revised after a closer inspection of the culverts showed extensive damage on those three roads, interim Town Manager John Eldridge told the Town Council.
Temporary repairs completed in the immediate aftermath of the storm are expected to cost the town $25,000, while permanent replacement will cost $175,000, Eldridge said.
It is unlikely that Brunswick will receive any federal disaster aid, so the town will be responsible for the entire cost of repairs and replacements, Eldridge said.
The town must move with haste to replace the culverts, Eldridge warned, because the temporary replacement tubing installed after the storm is only half the size of the original culverts and may not withstand another serious storm.
Brunswick will also have to install much larger pipes to replace the damaged culverts, to comply with a 2011 state law aimed at preserving movement of native fish.
Councilor Steve Walker said installing enlarged culverts makes financial sense, since climate change predictions forecast more frequent intense storms, and putting in the minimum allowed culvert size is no longer adequate to deal with the amount of water brought by the storms.
Moreover, larger culverts could allow species like eastern brook trout to freely move without obstruction, helping to maintain healthy fish populations in the state, Walker said.
A state panel Walker serves on looked into the issue, he said, and found that 40 percent of the state’s culverts created a barrier for fish passage.
“It’s great that we’re up-sizing these few streams,” Walker said, “to prepare not only for future storm events, but also to pass on to future generations the fishing legacy we enjoy here in Maine.”
Councilors also unanimously approved $726,000 in new borrowing to fund improvements to storm drains in a neighborhood off River Road and to purchase a new sidewalk tractor.
Improvements to storm drains on Nancy Drive, Patricia Road and Pierce Lane are expected to cost up to $580,000.
Residents have complained that the drains do not adequately deal with storm water, which can pool up inches deep in driveways in the area.
According to Town Engineer John Foster, the town was alerted to the problems in 2009, when it started a repaving project in the area. Public works amended the scope of the project to fix the deficient storm drains, which date back to the 1950s.
Foster said he is not optimistic the project could be completed in 2014, but said the town would start on it right away when construction season starts again in the spring.
The sidewalk tractor, which is expected to cost up to $146,000, is a necessary purchase to replace the town’s current vehicle, Eldridge said.
The cost of the tractor was initially included in the town’s proposed vehicle reserve account, but that funding was eliminated in budget cuts, requiring the town to issue bonds for the purchase, Eldridge explained.
Councilor Suzan Wilson said the tractor example was precisely why the town must stop reducing the money allocated to reserve accounts.
“Here you are folks, you thought you saved $100,000 last year in the budget, however, you still have to buy the $146,000 tractor,” Wilson said.
According to Eldridge, the two bonds will be combined with others and issued as one large municipal bond.