Middlebury eyes $3M bond to tackle road work backlog

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents next March will likely be asked to approve a $3 million bond issue to address a growing backlog of road improvement projects that would otherwise linger on the town’s to-do list due to a lack of available resources.
The draft list of more than two dozen projects tentatively includes upgrades to paved portions of Creek Road, Quarry Road, Butternut Ridge, and the Painter Hills area, as well as to Charles, Foote, Water, South and Weybridge streets, among others. It should be noted that most of the roads being eyed for repairs are going to see some excavation anyway during the next few years as a result of a separate, $3 million water-main improvement bond approved by voters last July 13.
“A lot of this is about synchronizing the highway projects with the road water projects,” said Middlebury Assistant Town Manager Joe Colangelo. “Why not just dig up the roads once?”
Middlebury’s public works committee is currently fine tuning the 20-year bond proposal, which Colangelo stressed would not increase property taxes. That’s because the annual debt service for the bond would be more than covered by capital improvement funds the town already commits each year for road upgrades.
Colangelo explained that the bonded projects would be performed within a three-year period.
Middlebury annually earmarks $550,000 for road projects throughout town, and debt service for the bond is expected to be highest — at around $250,000 — in year two of the 20-year issue, according to Colangelo. Plans would call for the town to funnel the next three annual installments of $550,000 of road money into the list of bonded projects. It’s an investment that would cover debt service payments during those three construction years, with around $900,000 left to help draw down debt in subsequent years of the bond, according to Colangelo.
“We know we will get at least 20 or 30 years out of whatever we do,” Selectman Dean George, chairman of the public works committee, said of the proposed road projects.
George said the town’s current debt level — in spite of the soon-to-be-completed Cross Street Bridge project — is low enough for Middlebury to reasonably take on a $3 million road bond.
“Interest rates are pretty favorable,” George said, noting that contractors are also giving very competitive rates in the current economy.
George anticipates the public works committee will recommend that the selectboard warn a bond vote for Town Meeting Day next March. Officials continue to tweak the draft list of projects. Once it is finalized, the complete list will be published in a future issue of the Addison Independent.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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