OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
July 9, 2014
The special meeting was convened at 8:00 AM at the Halifax Town Garage for the purpose of reviewing the roads where the truck from the proposed Denison/Ashfield Stone Schist Quarry will be traveling. Board members in attendance were Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz and Edee Edwards. Also in attendance was Brad Rafus, and briefly Keith Stone. During the trip, brief conversations were held with Judy Kochanchik and Bob Teree. Stone requested the town put the WiFi Hotspot approved parking location on the town website, as some people were blocking highway operations.
The Selectboard and Rafus met to review a map, spreadsheet, and some Bridge or Culvert Inventory forms provided by Windham Regional Commission. Rafus noted that WRC is going to assist with a full culvert inventory later this year.
Edwards drove the group to the bottom of Stark Mountain Road in Colrain, MA. Just a few feet from the end of the road, the 35 MPH Speed Limit sign marks the re-entry into Halifax. Along the route, the group stopped and assessed each culvert’s condition, including any noticeable erosion nearby, the amount of gravel coverage on the road bed over the culvert, culvert size and material, and general condition. In addition to updating the culvert inventory spreadsheet, a few photos were taken to document culverts, road widths, erosion issues, and slopes. Edwards noted she had a question out to WRC calculating road grades, in case signage is would be helpful.
While on Stark Mountain Road for a period of about 1 hour, 4 passenger cars were encountered. This stretch of road contains 17 culverts and one short structure which was a corrugated steel arch with concrete footings, with guardrails on both ends. Most of the rest of the road lacks guardrails despite steep slopes. It was noted that the road would be difficult to widen due to spots with drop-offs on one side and steep banks on the other side which would need retaining walls or slope stabilization in some cases. Rafus also noted that if we removed trees, we would need to stabilize the banks, as well as add guardrails. Sumner recounted that historically there was a spot which had a history of collapsing. A brief discussion about runaway truck ramps was held. The WRC maps notes that the route covers 1.17 miles on this class 3 road.
Next, 3 culverts on the short stretch of Amidon road were reviewed. Two passenger cars were encountered on Amidon. The WRC map notes 0.4 miles is the distance for the quarry route on this class 3 road.
Next, the group travelled Northeast on Jacksonville Stage Road. In addition to 15 more small culverts and one sizable one right at the intersection with Town Highway #52, we encountered 2 young moose in a field, 5 passenger cars and one bicyclist. Approaching the property at 4402 Jacksonville Stage Road, Edwards requested a picture of the blind curve in the road with a barn edging right up to the road. Sumner noted that many logging trucks have been navigating the road successfully; Edwards verbalized while driving past that the corner of the barn appears to have some replacement boards on it.
At the intersection of Town Highway #52 and Jacksonville Stage Road, Edwards noted that there was no street sign, and no stop sign. Visibility to make a left turn was not great in a Honda CRV. Sumner related a hair-raising story about a past encounter he’d had balanced over the edge of the road there at culvert 50. There is no guardrail there, but Holtz and Edwards suggested that might be advisable after hearing the story.
Judy Kotanchik, owner of 3874 Jacksonville Stage Road (which has its driveway on Road #52) was leaving her house, and stopped to inquire what the gathering was doing. Edwards introduced herself and the purpose of the visit. She expressed some concern over the possible impact on the roads. After she left, a brief conversation on plowing road #52 to her property was held, as it is now understood that this is a class 4 road, not a class 3 road. Some earlier conversation about having Selectboard members travel the plow routes as part of the decision making process were recapped; the Selectboard agreed no decision should be made at this specific time in any case.
Finally, the group travelled up Town Road #52 to the last navigable part of the road. Just past the turn-off noted as the future quarry site road, a mink crossed the road. Traveling to a log landing beyond the beaver pond on the class 4 road, Edwards asked for clarification about where the road actually continued, as there are several potential options. None seemed clearly navigable. One possible spot had been crossed by a chain 2 weeks prior when Edwards planned to hike on the road; this branch also has a no ATV sign posted. A different possible continuation of the road has a sign for snowmobile travel, but says that no other travel at other times of the year is permitted, as this is private land. Sumner thought this latter point was the old road, and that the snowmobile club had likely posted that sign.
Further discussion about road classifications and road naming was held, and we did find 2 culverts in Road #52 between the turn off private road and the intersection with Jacksonville Stage Road, which were partially documented as they were not on the original list. A second passenger car was encountered at the end of Road #52.
From the 2003 data we started with, one additional undocumented culvert was found on Jacksonville Stage Road, along with the 2 on Rd. #52, which we did not rate. A total of 39 culverts were assessed. Nine 9 culverts were in improved condition (usually due to being replaced in the interim), and 8 culverts were noted to be in a downgraded condition. Of those rated, 7 culverts are in excellent condition, 17 are in good condition, 5 are in fair condition, 8 are in poor condition. Some of the culverts which are not rated poor in condition may still need work due to erosion, frost heaves, or inadequate length.
The group retraced the route on the return drive.
Hearing of Visitors (Noted above in the narrative.)
The meeting ended at 10:56 AM back at the Town Garage.
Respectfully submitted, Edee Edwards, Selectboard Member