Six Franklin County towns to share $4M for culvert repairs

Published: 8/30/2021 2:39:10 PM

Six Franklin County towns can now place culvert concerns front and center, as they have received grants from the state Department of Fish and Games’ Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) to address and replace failed culverts.

Through the Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance Grant Program, towns have been given the financial tools to repair culverts — tunnel-like structures made of metal or concrete that allow water to flow under roadways— and ultimately improve their infrastructure.

Buckland, Colrain, Heath, Leyden, Montague, Orange and Whately are sharing $4 million in grant funding that a number of municipalities and organizations received statewide.

Montague will be awarded $25,000 for the design and engineering of a culvert to replace the insufficient one on South Ferry Road. Town Planner Walter Ramsey explained the 18-inch culvert services a stream that flows into the Sawmill River.

“It’s undersized and perched, which causes flooding in residential basements and can lead to other issues like lost roadways,” he said, adding that water falls into the river like a small waterfall, which is bad for aquatic life. “This one is being built to what’s called ‘stream-crossing standards,’ which is to prevent future flooding and will be better for wildlife.”

Ramsey said the new box culvert will be 5 feet by 5 feet. He said the grant agreement has not yet been signed and there is no timeline for when the culvert will be constructed or installed.

Buckland will use its $88,700 in grant money to continue its engineering to replace the partially failed culvert on Charlemont Road, according to Town Administrator Heather Butler. In the process of planning to fix the road, Butler said, the culvert collapsed and made the situation worse.

The town wants to address the situation on Charlemont Road due to its heavily trafficked nature, especially when there are detours on Route 2. The culvert will be temporarily fixed as a part of permanent road construction with another $1 million grant from MassWorks, but once the road is complete, this new Division of Ecological Restoration grant will cover the cost of the design needed to replace the damaged culvert permanently with a new bridge.

“We know that replacing that culvert is one of the biggest and most expensive phases of the project, so we’re very appreciative to have the money from the Division of Ecological Restoration to cover the cost of the engineering,” Butler said. “The next step will be to seek funding for the replacement.”

Leyden received the highest level of funding at $395,000. Leyden Municipal Assistant Michele Giarusso said that the grant will be used for the construction of the culvert on Coates Road.

This is the third time Colrain has received funding from Division of Ecological Restoration for culvert repair, according to Colrain Town Administrator Kevin Fox. This time around, he said, Colrain will use its $95,500 in funding to design and work on the failing culvert on Maxin Road.

“This is a grant program that is highly competitive because the funding pool is small in terms of dollars,” Fox said.

Colrain will move along with this project with the hope that it can ultimately pursue construction with additional funding.

Heath is planning for a similar approach with its $100,000 grant. “The grant is to do the whole first phase of the project, all the preparatory engineering work,” Hilma Sumner, Heath’s town administrator, explained.

The grant is being used for the plans to replace a failing culvert on Burrington Road that has allowed beavers and heavy rainstorms to frequently cause flooding.

“Our long-term goal is that when the project — including construction — is finished, it will mean that the town won’t have to expend town and additional funds in doing repair work because of flooding,” Sumner continued.

Heath hopes to apply for the same grant in the coming year in order to pay for final culvert construction.

Whately is planning to use its $57,120 to repair a culvert near Club Castaway at the intersection of State Road and Christian Lane.

“That will go toward field data collection and design engineering,” Town Administrator Brian Domina said. “It’s a stone culvert that is old and subsiding and its beyond its useful life.”


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