HOULTON, Maine — Several years after the town set out on a massive project to rebuild and repair its sidewalks, the municipality is set to begin work on another stretch along a busy section of North Street.
During a Town Council meeting last week, councilors approved a $174,382 contract that will allow Steelstone Industries of Houlton to build sidewalks on the section of road from the shopping plaza that is home to Marden’s and Andy’s IGA up to Walmart.
Town Manager Doug Hazlett told councilors that Steelstone was the only company to bid on the project. The bid came in $30,000 higher than officials originally expected, but the town will tap into money that had been set aside in the municipal roads account to offset the cost.
The work will begin next spring.
The latest work is part of a long-term effort to make the town more appealing to drivers, pedestrians and potential businesses.
During a special election in March 2009, voters approved a $1 million bond issue to fix roads and sidewalks. The bond is expected to be paid over a 20-year term.
Town officials lobbied for the road and sidewalk repair campaign in earnest in late 2008 after the condition of local roads and sidewalks deteriorated and more complaints were lodged.
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 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 roadway.
The situation also became an economic development issue. Councilors and other officials felt the poor roads did little to attract potential businesses to town.
Twenty roads were completed in 2009, and 10 sidewalks also were completed. Six other sidewalks and additional repairs have been completed since.
Repairing and creating sidewalks on North Street was especially important to town officials because that route leads to the town’s major shopping centers.
Some sidewalks along North Street were repaired last year. The town had hoped to finish the entire stretch at that time, but work was delayed due to last minute construction issues.
Councilor Sue Tortello said she was glad that a local company has been chosen to do the work.
“We’ve been working on this a long time, and it will be nice to put this project to bed,” she said.