Amid delays, Kelleher Drive culvert replacement in South Deerfield nears finish line

  • Work continues on the Bloody Brook culvert under Kelleher Drive in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Work continues on the Bloody Brook culvert under Kelleher Drive in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/18/2021 2:48:21 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The replacement of the culvert on Kelleher Drive, which was originally expected to take about a month once construction began in October, will hopefully be completed in the next three weeks, according to Town Administrator Kayce Warren.

Cleanup, however, which includes final paving and restoration, will take place in the spring. Warren advised the timeline is “fluid,” depending on weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

The project, which is being paid for by a state Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant of $289,900 and $108,900 of matching town funds, involves the replacement of the metal pipe culvert on Kelleher Drive, near the intersection with North Main Street.

According to Warren, replacing the culvert “was a long time coming.”

“It needed to be upgraded,” she said, adding that repairing or replacing the culvert will help water flow more effectively and not deteriorate the road.

As of last week, three large sections of culvert remain to be installed, according to Highway Superintendent Kevin Scarborough. Before that can happen, he explained, contractors must finish work on the water and sewer mains.

“Everything is pieced together,” he said.

Water was shut off in the neighborhood from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday for the purpose of installing a new section of water main, according to a notice on the Deerfield town website.

At a Selectboard meeting last week, officials provided an update on the project, and the various delays it has faced.

“The cold has had an impact on the installation of the culvert, as well as dealing with the utilities because of the pole that’s near the project,” Warren said.

In addition to the snowstorm that caused flooding at Bloody Brook, which runs through the culvert, the project was delayed in early December after contractors hit a mis-marked electrical line during excavation — causing area residents to briefly lose power and putting a halt to the project while Eversource replaced the line.

“We went through Dig Safe and it was 8 feet away from the Dig Safe marker,” Selectboard member Carolyn Shores Ness had explained previously.

Acknowledging the frustration of board members for the progress thus far, Scarborough said several of the delays were unavoidable and would have happened regardless of the contractor on the site.

“No matter who you used, they still would have hit the power, because that was not in their control,” he said. “They still would have had flooding, because three of the storms that came through were not controllable.”

Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel said he feels badly for the area residents who have had to deal with prolonged construction in their neighborhood.

“In the long run, we won’t be back there again in their lifetime,” he said. “For a long time, it’s gonna look well and look good for our community.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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