HOULTON, Maine — Town officials believe a six-month road and sidewalk reconstruction project has made the town more appealing to drivers, pedestrians and potential businesses.
The project is not completed, however. Additional work will begin next spring.
The project began soon after voters at a special election in March approved a $1 million bond issue to fix roads and sidewalks. The idea was to make the community friendlier to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
The bond is expected to be paid over a 20-year term.
Town officials long have advocated the work, as complaints about the condition of roads have multiplied and more concerns were being expressed about sidewalks. A number of roads had become riddled with potholes and cracks, despite yearly maintenance by the town’s Public Works Department.
In several cases, roads in town had sidewalks on only one side of the street or sported sidewalks so broken, jagged and crumbled that many people felt it was safer to walk in the streets.
The situation also became an economic development issue. Councilors and other officials felt the poor roads did little to attract potential businesses to the town.
Construction crews immediately began work after the bond was approved by laying out orange cones and construction signs and moving heavy equipment into the area.
Town Manager Doug Hazlett said 20 roads were completed this year.
Streets in historic downtown Market Square were targeted this year for repaving, but the project has been put on hold until next year because of construction projects in that area.
Crews are building a $2.5 million three-story apartment complex, and workers also are digging up a portion of downtown roadway to connect the new complex to municipal water and sewer lines.
Town officials opted to hold off paving Market Square until those projects were finished.
Hazlett also noted that 10 sidewalks slated for repair have been completed. Six other sidewalks are nearly complete, with only minor work left to be done on those.
He said five sidewalks have been deferred until next year, but a major sidewalk project along Military Street continues and should be completed soon. The sidewalk will make it easier for people, especially those who live in a senior citizen housing complex in the vicinity, to walk to a nearby grocery store.
Four sidewalks along North Street, School Street, Randall Avenue and Randall Court will be wrapped up next year. Hazlett said the town had hoped to complete the North Street sidewalk project this year, but delays getting the project approved at the state level hampered the effort.
Hazlett said that what remains of the bond will be carried over until next year to finance the remainder of the work.
Hazlett said the first phase of the project has been successful.
“I think we did well with what we set out to do,” he said.