By Tom McDermott and Robin Jovanovich
Mayor Josh Cohn was eager to share good news about a major thoroughfare at the April 24 City Council meeting: The City has received a $1.5 million grant to make pedestrian improvements on Forest Avenue. That moves Forest to the top of the paving list once the project has been designed and is ready to be put out to bid, which will likely mean in 2020.
For 2019, the City has budgeted $1.7 million for road repaving, but based on the presentation by Gordon Daring, managing director of VHB, Inc., the firm engaged five years ago to do a pavement management study and assisting City Engineer Ryan Coyne with this year’s road schedule, the picture is not entirely clear, and the need to send out requests for proposals is immediate.
VHB was asked at the previous Council meeting to come back with a refined plan that would cover a lot of neighborhood streets throughout the City. While Grace Church Street is high on the to-do list, it won’t be repaved until the Last Mile Project affecting streets close to I-95 until the project is completed.
Darling estimated that $1.5 million would be allocated for asphalt overlay, $100,000 for spot repairs, and $100,000 in crack sealing.
Barlow Lane, Greenhaven Road, Sonn Drive, Franklin and Roosevelt avenues were cited as among the roads most in need of work. He stressed that the final plan should be based on a continuity perspective.
Mayor Cohn restated the Council’s desire to distribute the improvements across town. “The whole town is crying out for better roads.”
Deputy Mayor Emily Hurd expressed her concern that the mapping software didn’t take into consideration the impact of construction on neighborhoods.
One resident in the audience noted that the data on the map was five years old and Councilman Richard Mecca noted that one of the streets denoted as one in great need of repaving was repaved two years ago.
In the end, the Council did not vote to give the go-ahead for any road resurfacing.
We wrote the Mayor and Deputy Mayor that night, encouraging the entire City Council to bike or drive to every street at the top of the repaving priority list, and compile an updated list.
Gordon Daring, managing director of VHB, Inc