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State grants support Washington County roadwork

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FORT EDWARD — Two state Water Quality Improvement Project grants will enable Washington County to address longstanding problems with culverts and roadside erosion on county roads.

The grants, awarded in December by the Capital Regional Economic Development Council, are for $508,000 to replace 12 undersized or undermined culverts and $527,000 to stop roadside erosion at five other sites. Sediment from the culverts and roadsides is damaging water quality in nearby bodies of water.

“These culverts and erosion issues have been going on for many years now,” said county Department of Public Works Superintendent Deborah Donohue. “I really couldn’t even begin to imagine when they started being issues. These projects would have taken much longer to be addressed without this funding for sure.”

Donohue credited Beth Gillis, director of the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board, with obtaining the grants.

The culverts slated for replacement drain toward Lake George, Halfway Creek, the Mettawee River, the Batten Kill, Indian Creek and Big Creek in the towns of Granville, Jackson, Hartford, Putnam and elsewhere, according to Donohue.

The roadside erosion remediation program will address slumping banks along County Route 2 in Putnam, County Route 46 in Fort Edward, County Route 48 in Argyle, County Route 77 in Greenwich and one site in Kingsbury, Donohue said. The projects will protect water quality in Freedom Marsh, the Champlain Canal and the Hudson River.

“We plan to do the work this year,” Donohue said. “Of course, it’s always hard to tell if we can get some of them done due to supply chain issues with the culverts and the planning with the specific towns that are involved.”

The county will hire a geotechnical engineer to design the roadside remediation projects, Donohue said. Otherwise, almost all the work will be done by county employees. Under the requirements of the grants, town highway departments will contribute in-kind labor and services, she said.

The roadside remediation projects will install horizontal drains and turf reinforcement mats, hydroseed bare ground, stabilize banks and plant woody vegetation to keep soil in place, according to the REDC’s grant announcement.

Travelers may encounter some road closures while work is underway.

“If the culvert is small, we try not to close the road,” Donohue said.

Larger culverts may require closures of up to a week, she added. Closures will be announced at least a week ahead of time by posts on the department’s website and signs in the work area. Donohue also plans to create a DPW Facebook page for quick updates.

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