Road stories

Interesting and long discussion with Mike Sullivan yesterday afternoon, when I called to see what the Board of Selectmen was going to do about having missed our meeting on the first Tuesday of January – we will probably add a meeting on at the end of the month, given our need to review budgets.

I also suggested that we have department heads plan to give the Board of Selectmen and the town seminars and/or reports on topics of interest, such as (1) proper staffing levels for town departments, and (2) how to maintain the roads for the longest time at the least cost.  The Massachusetts Municipal Association recently prodded the legislature to spend more on Chap. 90 highway maintenance by pointing out that something like each dollar spent on maintenance postpones five dollars of repairs and/or replacements of roads.  I thought the town would like to know why we grind down and patch sections of roads and use stone seal, versus just re-paving.

That lead to discussions of Rte. 109 and 27 being state numbered roads, but not actually state highways.  The distinction is that we own the cost to repair them.  Rte. 27 is the super wide drag strip that it is on the North side of town because of former highway superintendent, Billy McCarthy, who liked wide roads and convinced the state to pay to build it that way.  Mike thought it may have been an early iteration (before I-495) of plans for an outer circumferential highway.

North Street by the Memorial School is as wide as it is because Billy McCarthy liked to have wide rights of ways.  Up further, the North Street right of way goes behind the houses on the railroad side of North Street up where Farm Street takes off, because years ago a property owner in the area named Cheney objected to the Norfolk Hunt Club riding over his land.  Next thing he knew, a right of way for North Street was taken by the state across the Cheney (and all of his neighbors’) land, and the Norfolk Hunt Club was then connected to its fields at what is called the racecourse.  The racecourse land is the old Medfield Golf Course.

Governor Sargent, a Dover resident, had a main Dover street coming in from Chestnut Street in Needham declared a state roadway, thus making the state liable for all the repairs.  However, Mike says that it was eventually de-listed by the state, and now Dover is again responsible.

Mike is giving his annual seminar on municipal budgeting to the Warrant Committee this coming Saturday morning, starting at 8 AM.


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