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New Deerfield highway garage to be ready by end of April

  • Vehicle storage bays at Deerfield Highway Garage. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Vehicle storage bays at Deerfield Highway Garage. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • New Deerfield Highway Garage in South Deerfield.   Recorder/Paul Franz

    New Deerfield Highway Garage in South Deerfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • Service bays in new Deerfield Highway Garage.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Service bays in new Deerfield Highway Garage. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • RECORDER/PAUL FRANZ Kevin Scarborough, a foreman with Town of Deerfield Highway Department, served as the clerk of the works for the new Highway Garage in South Deerfield.

    RECORDER/PAUL FRANZ Kevin Scarborough, a foreman with Town of Deerfield Highway Department, served as the clerk of the works for the new Highway Garage in South Deerfield.

  • Photo by Kathleen McKiernan<br/>Inside the former Deerfield Highway Garage, built in 1948.

    Photo by Kathleen McKiernan
    Inside the former Deerfield Highway Garage, built in 1948.

  • Photo by Kathleen McKiernan<br/>The office room in the former Deerfield Highway Garage was once a jail cell.

    Photo by Kathleen McKiernan
    The office room in the former Deerfield Highway Garage was once a jail cell.

  • Vehicle storage bays at Deerfield Highway Garage. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • New Deerfield Highway Garage in South Deerfield.   Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Service bays in new Deerfield Highway Garage.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • RECORDER/PAUL FRANZ Kevin Scarborough, a foreman with Town of Deerfield Highway Department, served as the clerk of the works for the new Highway Garage in South Deerfield.
  • Photo by Kathleen McKiernan<br/>Inside the former Deerfield Highway Garage, built in 1948.
  • Photo by Kathleen McKiernan<br/>The office room in the former Deerfield Highway Garage was once a jail cell.

SOUTH DEERFIELD — By the end of April, the town’s eight highway crew members will no longer have to work in freezing conditions or eat lunch inside the vehicle maintenance room.

By then, the new $5.9 million highway garage that voters approved in 2012 will be open for business.

The garage on Jewett Avenue is expected to be finished on time and on budget, according to Kevin Scarborough, the highway foreman who acts as the clerk of the works.

On the old pickle factory property, the 17,000-square-foot energy-efficient building has 38-foot-tall ceilings.

The new building is a far cry from the current garage.

At the front of the building, the office for the highway director and foreman looks out onto the property. Across the hall are new lockers and showers for the workers, who can get pretty dirty on some jobs, like repairing sewer lines.

The new vehicle storage area can house 90 percent of the department’s equipment, including the seven large plow trucks, three small pickups, one front-end loader and one backhoe. The equipment maintenance area has overhead doors so equipment can fit inside. In the past, the mechanic, Chuck Willor of Northfield, had to work on vehicles outside.

The new facility is more computerized, with a reference room for records, helping to bring the department into the 21st century. An automated fuel system will also keep track of how much fuel a vehicle is using per mile to help the crew determine whether the vehicles are functioning efficiently.

There will also be a new fluid distribution room for hydraulic fluids and oils. In the past, the crew used a hand pump to put oil into the vehicles. The town has secured a fluid distribution system valued at $60,000 at a cost of only $6,000.

Next door is a 3,000-square-foot sand and salt shed that can hold up to 17 tons.

Just a few feet north of the new site, the former gray rusting garage stands as a marked contrast.

Built in 1948, the 3,500-square-foot garage is a decrepit building. Tools and street signs are stashed haphazardly in each garage bay. The only way the front entrance door can be closed is with a heave and slight upward lift of the door.

At the back of the garage, a cramped old jail cell serves as the office. Outside, sand was left in a pile with a plastic cover thrown on top to keep it dry.

And the eight full-time highway workers eat lunch at a small table in the maintenance room alongside the vehicles.

There are two small heaters hanging from the ceiling of the maintenance room which heat that area and the office.

The windows are not insulated and cold air blows through the cracked sides of the garage doors. Of the eight bays, two are heated and workers have to do vehicle maintenance outside in the cold.

The warmest it gets in the old highway garage is 50 degrees, but employees said it is better than 3 degrees outside.

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