Destroyed by Irene, Savoy’s Black Brook Road gets the cash to be fixed

 

By Adam Shanks, North Adams Transcript

POSTED:   12/19/2013 07:47:27 PM EST

SAVOY — The town has been awarded nearly $1 million in state funds to help with the costly reconstruction of Black Brook Road.

The road, which could now be open by late 2014, was destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene more than two years ago. It has remained closed since.

The $997,112 grant was given out by the state as a part of Gov. Deval Patrick’s MassWorks Infrastructure Program. A total of more than $79 million in funding was given to 33 communities across the state.

“Our government really stepped up to help us,” said Savoy Selectmen’s Chairman John Tynan.

The grant is intended to “complement” the $1,695,027 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance for repairs to Black Brook Road, according to a state press release.

“It was a very important thing to get,” Tynan said. “All of these things, when we put them all together, will be very useful.”

The road serves as an important passage to Route 2 for Savoy residents, who have had to take a detour for more than two years.

The state aid is crucial to the reconstruction project, according to Tynan. Though the town has received FEMA assistance, he argues it is not enough to complete the project. He called the agency “very helpful” and said “they’ve worked well with us,” but it has not been able to keep up with the increasing scope of the reconstruction project.

“They [FEMA] don’t want to make the road an improved project,” he said.

The original estimate for the project has increased significantly after a change of engineers.

The additional state funding should allow the town to address long-term issues with the road, such as drainage of nearby waterways, Tynan said, hopefully preventing a similar disaster in the future.

With the additional $1 million, the town is looking to begin construction of the road by next summer. Engineers could have plans for the road complete as early as next month, according to Tynan.

The town will still need permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers for the project to move forward, but Tynan is optimistic that process will be complete by the Spring.

“There will be plenty of work to still do,” Tynan said.

The MassWorks will help cover initial costs of the project. While the town does have an “Irene Account,” it isn’t robust enough to cover the upfront costs of planning the project, Tynan said. Though FEMA has pledged its support, the town is only reimbursed after it makes a project-related expenditure.

“We’ve moved forward with the engineering because we did have some money,” Tynan said. “We’ve been fighting to find the funding so we feel comfortable with that we’re doing.”

The state has already chipped in before offering the MassWorks Grant. The Highway Department has covered the 25 percent matching costs of federal assistance, Tynan said.

Looking forward, the town is still waiting to hear back about a grant that would cover the cost of planning and engineering, according to Tynan.

We’re trying to piece all of this together,” Tynan said, but added that it looks like the town “can now hit the ground running with the funds.”

Savoy, along with the 32 other communities, was chosen out of a pool of 108 applicants for the MassWorks funding. The program is aimed bolstering the economy through investing in infrastructure.

“The MassWorks program is a key tool in our growth strategy of investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure to create jobs and economic development,” Patrick said in a statement.

To reach Adam Shanks, email
ashanks@thetranscript.com.