April 23, 2018
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Bangor city manager: Sidewalks will be plowed but all in good time

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
A woman walks on a road in Bangor on Wednesday. Many sidewalks were not completely cleared of snow two days after Monday's blizzard.
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By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Despite an internal memo issued Tuesday suggesting that some Bangor sidewalks won’t be plowed for the rest of the winter, city officials said Thursday that they all will be plowed, eventually.

“We’re going to do the same thing we do every year and every snowstorm — we’re going to keep plowing,” City Manager Cathy Conlow said Thursday in a telephone interview.

“We are doing sidewalks, and we’re going to continue to do sidewalks, and we’re working through them as fast as we can. We have crews working 12 hours a day. Four to five sidewalk plows are out 12 hours a day,” she said.

Conlow said it was helpful that a storm expected to drop as much as a foot of snow in Greater Bangor on Wednesday night left behind fewer than 3 inches.

“Actually the weather last night cooperated, and the melt [expected to occur] for the next five days should cooperate. All the sun should help melt this off,” she said.

“So we’re just asking that people be patient as we work through all of this. We’re not ignoring them. We aren’t sitting back. We’re getting to them as fast as we can,” she said. “We’re going to get to everybody at some point.”

Earlier this week, Public Works Director Dana Wardwell said in a memo to other city officials that clearing “priority 1” sidewalks would be slow going and that “priority 2” sidewalks might not be plowed for the rest of the winter. The memo was posted on Facebook by a few city councilors.

Conlow, however, said that’s not the case.

“In the past, we already had a list of priority sidewalks that we do first,” she said, citing the city’s 2-year-old policy.

Those are the main arteries. Those are the roads that take you to school. Those are the roads that are heavily traveled. We try to get one side of every road, and so Dana’s crews are working to pick off the priority 1 [sidewalks], and then they’ll start picking off the priority 2 [sidewalks],” she said.

City Council Chairman Joe Baldacci said Thursday that most of the feedback he has received about the sidewalk situation has been understanding.

“The reaction from the public has been generally that people are very happy with public works, seriously, because these guys worked around the clock and are going to continue to work around the clock,” he said.

The [recent blizzard that hit Maine] was the biggest snowstorm, I think, in 50 years, — if not further years — and we had a crew that’s been working around the clock,” he said, noting that the full-court press will continue through late Monday, at the least.

“I think the situation is going to improve significantly over the next week or so. It just takes time to make sure they’ve got the manpower. He assures us that they do,” he said.

Bangor School Superintendent Betsy Webb said that the school department hadn’t fielded complaints from parents whose children walk to school about the condition of the sidewalks.

She said that Wardwell has been in regular contact to see what the school department’s snow removal needs have been, including the times that homeowners have thrown their snow onto city sidewalks.

Joe Gallant, principal of All Saints School in Bangor, said that while none of the students there walk to school, he worries that many children throughout the city do not know enough about pedestrian safety — including the fact that people should walk against traffic so they can see any vehicles headed in their direction.

Melissa Bolduc, the parent of an Abraham Lincoln School first-grader, said maintaining sidewalks is important.

While her daughter, Zoe, doesn’t walk to school from their Lancaster Avenue home, her whole family is active, has a dog and likes to walk to nearby parks.

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