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Manholes to remain covered by temporary paving; Concerns raised by water-sewer commissioners, but no action to be taken.

Byline: Debbie LaPlaca

CHARLTON - Water-sewer commissioners and highway officials have agreed to let sleeping manhole covers lie.

Jodie St. George of Woodard & Curran, the company that operates the wastewater treatment plant, alerted commissioners Monday night that sewer manhole covers were buried by recent paving on North Main Street and Masonic Home Road.

Although the manhole locations are mapped, Mr. St. George cautioned that workers would have to pickax the new pavement to access the sewer pipes in an emergency.

"My concern is that they were told not to pave over these covers and they did anyway," Commissioner James McIntire said that night.

A letter sent the following day from commissioners to Highway Superintendent Gerry Foskett said: "We acknowledge that you called the week before the paving and asked the department if we were going to raise the manhole covers. It was reported to you that we believe that this is part of the responsibility of the paving contractor."

The letter asked for an immediate remedy to the problem.

Mr. Foskett had written to Town Administrator Robin L. Craver on July 10 to report the roads were in terrible condition. Reconstruction and paving of the two roads was on hold for the possible installation of a water line; however, he wrote, it could be two years before the road was ready for paving. He recommended an overlay coat for the roads at a cost of $50,500 from state Chapter 90 funds.

"Although this is a temporary fix to a serious situation, I believe it must be done to ensure the public safety of these two roads," Mr. Foskett wrote.

Outside contractor Holden Traprock Paving applied the overlay coat July 18.

Water-Sewer Commissioner John W. Elliott Sr. walked the roads Tuesday and said in an interview yesterday, "There is no point in digging them up. It's not a major emergency; we just panicked or somebody panicked."

He explained the new pavement is a temporary patch also known as a leveling course.

"They just barely skimmed over the top," he said, indicating the pavement is thin.

Ms. Craver said yesterday it was not uncommon to pave over utility covers when applying a temporary patch.

"It sounds like there was some miscommunication between the two departments," she said, adding there is no procedure for road paving coordination, but efforts will be made to close that gap.

Meanwhile, she said, the two departments have reached an agreement.

The manhole covers were identified with orange paint Tuesday and will remain buried until it is time to raise them for the permanent paving. The Highway Department with be available to open the manholes if a need arises.

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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 26, 2007
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