Durham Public Works has used public information – and a little diplomacy – in an effort to make things easier for residents and motorists alike as the crew begins major jobs on Rabbit and Runaround Pond roads.

Road Commissioner Calvin Beaumier mailed out a detailed outline of the two projects to every household in town on June 14. Beaumier informed people that, as abutters, they could be impacted by roadwork that could last into next year. Those impacts include the removal of trees in the town’s right of way; replacement of culverts, including some underneath driveways; ditching and paving. Short detours and one-way traffic can be expected, he wrote. The letter also appears on the town’s website.

“I’ve already met with most of (the abutters),” Beaumier said last week. “I’ve had to negotiate the removal of some trees. That’s been the biggest obstacle.”

And that’s where the diplomacy came in.

Right in the path of the town right of way, at 233 Rabbit Road, the crew knew it had to take down three rock maples in front of Curtis and Sally Simmering’s home. Sally Simmering had made it known that she didn’t want the trees removed with signs they put up, Beaumier said.

“The woman put signs up saying, ‘Save those trees,’” Beaumier said. “We offered to give her the wood, and she agreed. Then, some of the wood got stolen, but we made it up.”

Attempts to contact the Simmerings were unsuccesful.

“We’ve taken down over 100 trees, to accommodate ditching,” Beaumier said. “We’d rather use PR to get people to work with us.”

Ruth Glaeser, the town’s administrative assistant, praised Beaumier for the information campaign.

“Not every town does it,” Glaeser said.

The five-person public works crew now is working on Rabbit Road, removing worn-out culverts and doing some initial ditching. The project, funded by a $1.5 million bond recently approved at the annual town meeting, is not your routine summer roadwork, Beaumier said.

“It’s something we’ve got to do,” he said. “The pavement’s fatigued. It’s 25 to 30 years old. It’s just worn out.”

In his letter, Beaumier advised Durham residents that the surfaces of Rabbit and Runaround Pond roads will be reclaimed – meaning it will be ground up and  mixed with a few inches of gravel and spread beneath the pavement. Some new asphalt will be needed. Repaving, shoulder work and a final layer of pavement will follow.

“We’re only expecting a couple of situations that might require a short detour on a couple of different days,” Beaumier wrote. “For the most part, however, the roads will remain open to one lane at a time with flaggers at each end of the daily work zones. Although we will take all appropriate measures to ensure minimal impact to abutters and the traveling public, there will undoubtedly be some level of inconvenience experienced as we construct this project.”

Ron Dube, foreman for Durham Public Works, measures the depth of the old culvert on Runaround Pond Road so that Tim Grant knows how deep to dig with his excavator on June 28.

Tim Grant begins digging up a portion of Runaround Pond Road in Durham last week, so that the public works crew could replace a worn-out culvert.

Tim Grant uses his excavator to dig up part of Runaround Pond Road last week, so that the Durham Public Works crew could replace an old culvert.

A stump remains where a rock maple tree stood in the town right of way, in front of Curtis and Salley Simmerings’ home on Rabbit Road in Durham.

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