Latham Road repair delayed another year

Latham Road repair delayed another year

A portion of Latham Road was rebuilt in 2016, but it never received a top coat, the top layer of asphalt that seals the base and prevents moisture penetration and freeze-thaw cracking. The funds for top coating had been budgeted but were diverted to cover flood damage from the July 2017 storm.

Now, according to the Town Manager, sections of the rebuilt portion of Latham Road are cracking, and the remaining portion of Latham Road that was never rebuilt is in very poor condition. The total project expense was estimated by an engineering firm to be about $750,000 in 2020, before new cracking was identified.

The Town was planning to topcoat the newer section of Latham Road this year with funds accumulated in its Paving Fund, which includes an extra $100,000 from last year's highway fund surplus. This was after navigating unexpected costs realized by the Town related to the Strafford portion of Route 132, which were ultimately folded into the "up to" $4 million bond voters approved for Route 132 road repairs. This freed up the entirety of the Paving Fund for other projects such as Latham Road. However, it would be a waste of money to apply an expensive topcoat without first repairing the damage to the rebuilt section of Latham that was discovered, or to complete Latham Road in two phases rather than one due to the high cost of staging equipment. It's most affordable to stage equipment once.

There may be grant funding available through the state to assist with Latham Road. The catch? The Town would only receive $60,000 in grant funds if it applied this year, but could receive $200,000 in grant funding next year if it simply waits for the next funding cycle. Even so, fixing the whole of Latham Road would still require substantially more money than provided by the grant.

Another year's contribution to the Paving Fund – the Town has been contributing $125,000/year – would provide more flexibility. With careful planning and sustained annual contributions to its Paving Fund, the Town could reclaim and topcoat the entire stretch of Latham Road in 2022.