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FEMA, Engineers Seek Compromise on Windsor’s Brook Road

Windsor — The saga of Brook Road, which was severely damaged in Tropical Storm Irene almost three years ago and remains impassable in parts, could see a final resolution on federal funding for repairs within the next few months.

Town Manager Tom Marsh said Monday he the town was hopeful they would know by the end of the summer how much FEMA would give them.

Marsh said the state Agency of Transportation, FEMA officials and the town’s engineers continue to work on reaching a compromise on the cost to repair what is referred to as the “eastern washout.” That damage is between Estey Lane and the intersection with Route 44 near the Interstate 91 bridge that is being rebuilt.

Marsh said FEMA has offered $250,000 but the town’s engineers say it will cost $1.2 million to repair that portion of the road. The difference, he said, is primarily because FEMA recommends riprap (large rocks) on the stream side with the road rebuilt farther back from Mill Brook while the town’s engineers and AOT say a more costly “pinned concrete wall” is needed for a permanent repair.

“I’m hoping we can reach a middle ground,” Marsh said.

Marsh said he believes FEMA will “come up” from its offer and perhaps the town will be able to lower its estimates. He is not sure just how close he can get those numbers. When that figure is finalized, Marsh said the town can fund the difference using a portion of the $3 million voters approved in March for infrastructure repairs. The town can borrow from those funds on an as-needed basis, similar to a line of credit.

At a meeting in April, several residents of Brook Road, Hewett Road and Estey Lane pressed Marsh to push forward with repairs to the entire road. But the $3.5 million engineer’s estimate to repair everything, including the “western washout” and a bridge that was destroyed, was far below the $1.7 million FEMA offered the town.

While sympathetic to residents’ wishes to see the entire road repaired, Marsh said in April that if they remained far apart on the funding, any gap would have to be decided by a bond vote.

Since that meeting, Marsh said the Selectboard decided not to repair the “western washout” beyond Hewett Lane and the bridge. The western side of Brook Road meets with Route 44 in Brownsville.

Fixing the eastern washout would allow Hewett and Estey Lane residents to travel Brook Road to reach Route 44 and downtown Windsor, rather than exit off of Hewett on to Hunt Road, or Estey Lane to Route 44.

Marsh said Monday FEMA approved $1.2 million to fix the western washout and bridge but since the town is not going to do those repairs it sought, and received, approval to use the money for other road repairs in town, remove the damaged bridge on Brook Road, complete more repairs to the Kennedy Pond dam and buy air packs for the fire department.

“We have the approval but not the final letter from FEMA,” Marsh said.

He said he hopes that letter will arrive in time for some road work to be done this summer but the Brook Road repairs won’t be done until next year. The town must spend whatever money is received by November 2015 or it will lose it.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.