Glocester to address low-lying, flood-prone sites thanks to $485K grant

Cooper Road, one of five sites that have flooded over the roads in recent heavy rain events. The town DPW will be adding or enlarging culverts and/or raising roadbeds. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

GLOCESTER – Thanks in part to a $485,000 Municipal Resilience Grant from the state, low lying flood sites that cause road erosion will be on the Department of Public Works’ list of repairs in Glocester next year.

The grant, explained Town Planner Karen Scott, pays for 75 percent of the cost of repairs, with the town kicking in the other 25 percent, some of which can be billed as, “in kind,” meaning the town provides the labor, materials and/or machinery – and is compensated for it. The town’s overall portion amounts to $60,625. This is the first year Glocester is eligible for the grant, Scott added.

“We looked at some of the things that were identified in our program,” she told the council.  “The big issues are some low lying flood prone sites that are having real public safety problems because they are eroding the roadway. They become very unsafe to pass during weather events.”

The five sites all share a common problem, according to the project summary: “The town will address the issue of repeated flooding at five specific low lying areas through infrastructure improvements. This series of project was selected as they pose the most immediate current threat to public safety, and they are the most feasible to implement given the project time frame.”

The report went on to say that these projects were chosen since the flooding issues experienced in these locations have been chronic and worsening with intensifying weather events.

They include: Long Entry Road at Cooper Road, Cooper Road at the dry hydrant off of Long Entry Road, Tourtellot Hill Road/Route 44 at Everson Drive, all of Joe Sarle Road and Farnum Road. All of the sites experience water overflows and flooding during heavy rain events and/or overwhelm existing drainage, including culverts, which run beneath the roads.

“If these flooding issues are not addressed, the intensity and negative effects will only increase in the future as the impacts of climate change intensify creating greater risk to public safety, infrastructure, and natural resources,” according to the grant request.

The request went on to say that Glocester, a small, rural community, has limited staff and resources, leading to the request for assistance.

“The town’s public works department, while very small, is very effective in implementing large scale projects on  smaller budget, projects that the town would not be able to afford otherwise,” it notes.

Scott told the council that Gary Treml, DPW director, said the projects have to be done, regardless.

“These are projects that have to be done anyways,” she said. “These are imminent. We have to work on these.”

Long Entry Road NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

With the help of the state grant, however, it will be at a greatly reduced cost to the town, she noted. Scott added in the report that the repairs will deliver many benefits, including safer, more resilient transportation infrastructure, safer and more reliable safety response, better filtration of roadway runoff through the use of green infrastructure, and better protection of private property. In some cases, additional culverts would be added and roadways raised to lessen the impact of flooding during heavy rainfall events.

Finance Director Mark Capuano explained that there is money left over from previous road projects that can be reallocated for the town’s portion of the grant. Those funds previously came from an American Rescue Plan Act grant.

“I think what’s important to understand too is that this council and our departments have been excellent at being able to take some of this money and turn it into a lot more money through grants,” said Councilor Walter Steere. “Here’s an opportunity where we can get a lot of work done, which was supposed to be done anyway, through a grant.”

While preliminary planning and designs have been already completed, final designs are scheduled for early next year, with projects to begin in spring of 2024.

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