Highway Department

Questions for the Highway Department? Please contact Ron Sweet, superintendent of the Conway Highway Department at [email protected] or 369-4235, ext. #.  For an emergency, call Shelburne Control at (413) 625-8200.

Welcome to Conway’s Roads Plan!

Conway has 71 miles of roads; Route 116 is the only State Highway.  Conway’s Federal Aid Roads include Route 116, Shelburne Falls Road, and North Poland Road though Main Poland Road to Williamsburg Road and on to the Williamsburg line, along with South Ashfield Road to Ashfield.

About one-third of Conway’s roads are unpaved.

The Highway Department manages the maintenance and improvement of town roads, including culverts, ditches, and bridges; maintains all the road equipment, including trucks, heavy equipment, trailers, and plows; trims brush and tree limbs near roadways and removes trees that fall on public ways; and mows roadsides.

Conway’s Highway Department is staffed by a superintendent, three truck driver / laborers and one laborer.  The equipment list is: 3 Class 8 single-axle dump trucks; 1 Class 5 truck; 1 Class 4 truck; 1 pick-up truck; 2 three-yard loaders; 1 road grader; 1 mini-excavator; 1 over-the-fence mower tractor; 1 small tractor; and 2 trailers.

The Highway Superintendent monitors the roads regularly; daily if necessary, especially in the winter.

Winter Conditions and Standard Operating Procedures

Conway has a budget specifically for winter road care. This includes sand, salt, plowing and other snow removal (including sidewalks), overtime pay, extra fuel, and other supplies and winter equipment.

Sand is really a mixture of coarse winter sand and a minimal amount of salt, which keeps the sand from freezing into solid chunks.  Coarse winter sand is screened to 1/2 inch, an aggregate that is both beneficial for unpaved roads by adding gravel, and by providing larger pebbles that will not sink under ice.

Salt is used for paved roads, as it has both melting and drying effects, and sand has to be cleaned up later at extra cost.

When there is a small snowstorm of about one or two inches, the Highway Department will sand, salt, and plow after the snow it has fallen.  When there is a larger snowstorm, the Highway Department will start sanding, salting, and plowing when a few inches have fallen, and continue without any major break throughout the storm.  Downtown sidewalks are cleared after the roads are done.

If emergency personnel are responding to a call, that is given top priority.  Priority is also given to school bus routes when school buses are transporting children.

During a snowy winter, some paved roads may not be cleared to dry pavement. For dirt roads, many will not be cleared down to dirt.  The Highway Department will continue to salt paved roads if they are icy, and sand icy dirt roads, as long as necessary.

During the winter, there is also tree trimming along the sides of roads, clearing frozen culverts, and keeping up with the heavy demands on the necessary equipment.

Winter severity can vary a great deal, so road conditions will also vary from year to year.  Our goal is to keep everyone safe, so if you know of dangerous road conditions, please let us know as soon as possible at [email protected] or 369-4235, ext. #.

Spring Conditions and Standard Operating Procedures

Welcome to mud season!

2014 is likely to be a very wet spring.  There is a great deal of frost in the ground, and when it melts, it will melt from the top down, so there’s no place for the water to go—which creates mud.

The Highway Department will keep an eye out for ruts and add gravel (stone) to firm up the road so it is passable.  It may be necessary at times to close a road; if this happens, we will do our best to ensure that anyone who lives on the road can get in and out, though this is not guaranteed.

After the mud comes grading–dirt roads cannot be graded until the frost is gone and the roads are dry.

In spring, the Highway Department cleans up from the winter–making sure the hundreds of culverts are clear of debris that has accumulated over the winter, repairing road edges, signs and sign posts, filling potholes, and sweeping sidewalks and some roads.

As roads continue to dry out, work moves toward summer activities.