China causeway bridge work to create considerable disruption in the area

Potential impacts on emergency services, local residents, commuters, visitors and people attending services and programs at China Baptist Church

by Mary Grow

Among items China selectmen discussed at their May 29 meeting was the planned replacement of the causeway bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin, a project they expect will create considerable temporary disruption in the area.

The work is scheduled for late September through mid-November, TIF (Tax Increment Finance) Committee member Tom Michaud told selectmen. It will involve building a coffer dam to divert the stream flowing into China Lake, taking out the existing bridge and replacing it with a larger, higher one.

Michaud said permits still need to be obtained. Bids were scheduled to go out the week of May 29. When Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux reminded Michaud that selectmen needed to approve bid specifications, they decided that engineer Joe McLean from Wright-Pierce would email them to the manager to share with the board. Selectmen pointed out there is limited space for large trucks to maneuver near the bridge. The next day, L’Heureux emailed a list of potential impacts on emergency services, local residents, commuters, visitors and people attending services and programs at China Baptist Church. He proposed extensive notice focused on area residents, including public informational meetings, electronic signs and notices to as many affected parties as people can think of.

Board Chairman Robert MacFarland added that people with boats in China Lake needed to be notified that access to the boat landing east of the bridge is likely to be disrupted as the contractor starts stockpiling materials.

Michaud said Mark McCluskey of A. E. Hodsdon engineers is doing preliminary design work on the second phase of the project, involving sidewalks, fishing platforms and similar changes along the lake. MacFarland asked for a cost estimate for McCluskey’s work.

Another project selectmen found eligible for TIF funds is expanding broadband service in China. Peter Hussey from Hussey Communications, in Winslow, proposed a study to see how much of the shoreline of “the long skinny part” of China Lake is covered by existing towers.

Selectmen unanimously authorized spending up to $3,000 from TIF funds earmarked for preliminary work on potential TIF projects. Resident Wayne Chadwick reminded them “There’s a lot more to this town than the lake.”

In other business, selectmen appointed Carlaine Bovio as member of the Comprehensive Planning Committee.

They unanimously authorized L’Heureux to order a new forklift for the transfer station, to be paid for when the new fiscal year starts in July.

They planned to advertise for bids for a roof over the north (basement) entrance to the old town house, with MacFarland to draw up specifications, and for quotes for a an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant bathroom in the former portable classroom between the town house and town office, with L’Heureux to prepare specifications.

They postponed action on bids for equipment and materials for summer road work, waiting for samples from bidders who want to supply sand.

They also postponed further discussion of the already-much-discussed fire pond on Neck Road, because they lacked a cost estimate for new design work. Michaud said the excavated clay had been spread, at no cost to the town, and the field it had occupied was planted to corn.

According to the town website, the next selectmen’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m., Monday, June 11, in the town office.

June 12 voting will be in the portable classroom, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All registered voters may vote on the Regional School Unit #18 budget and on the state referendum question on ranked-choice voting. Registered voters enrolled in a political party may vote in the party primary.


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