ELLSWORTH, Maine — The City Council has put on hold planned improvements to Winkumpaugh Road in order to upgrade Pond Avenue near the entrance to the new K-8 school.
City Manager Michelle Beal told councilors on Monday that the estimates for the work on Winkumpaugh Road came in at $900,000, which is $100,000 more than what is in the city budget for road projects. Beal noted that, because of major work being done on Route 1A this year and next, postponing the project likely will mean a two-year delay on Winkumpaugh.
She suggested that the city could scale back the planned 1.3 miles of improvements, but councilors raised concerns about other projects that needed to be completed this year. Councilors were reluctant to put off work on the road, but were concerned about the available funding.
“There’s only so much money in that bag,” council Chairman John Phillips said.
Safety became the deciding factor.
“Pond Avenue needs to be done for the safety of the kids,” said Councilor Gary Fortier.
Earlier this year, councilors agreed to redesign a portion of the road that leads from Forrest Avenue to the new entrance to the K-8 school. A portion of the school housing grades four to eight is expected to be open for the start of school this year and the road will be in use then.
“Pond Avenue has to trump anything else,” agreed Councilor Stephen Beathem. He stressed that Winkumpaugh Road still remains a priority. “I want to make sure Winkumpaugh Road stays at the top of the list,” he said.
Fortier also suggested that any funds left when Pond Avenue was completed could be used to install sidewalks on Bridge Hill. The Maine Department of Transportation is rebuilding the intersection of Routes 1 and 172 on Bridge Hill, and the sidewalks could be done in conjunction with that project, he said.
Councilors unanimously agreed to postpone the Winkumpaugh Road work.