October 16, 2019
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Nearly all of Rockland’s roads need work, but officials take $10M bond off the table

Natalie Williams | BDN
Natalie Williams | BDN

ROCKLAND, Maine — All but 1 mile of roadway that the city maintains needs some type of repair, according to city officials. But the Rockland City Council defeated a measure Monday night that would have put a $10 million roadwork bond question before voters on November’s ballot.

Councilors Valli Geiger and Ben Dorr voted in favor of the referendum. Councilors Linda Westkaemper, Ed Glaser and Amelia Magjik voted against it.

Instead, City Manager Tom Luttrell said the council should start allocating between $300,000 to $500,000 to the city’s budget annually in order to make the necessary repairs, hopefully within the next five years. It’s unclear how the city will do that.

About 57 miles of city roadways need paving work, ranging from general maintenance to reconstruction, according to data from the Rockland Public Services Department. There are 58 miles of city-owned roads in Rockland, according to the public service department website.

“Frankly, some of these roads are impassable …[Repair and maintenance] is difficult when it’s coming at you from all sides,” Interim Public Services Director Chris Donlin said last month.

Road repair has been long needed in Rockland, and the spring took a toll on the crumbling roads. To complete the repairs in a timely fashion, city officials were considering asking voters to approve a $10 million bond for the work. The bond also would have helped with sewer and stormwater separation work, which is often done in tandem with road projects.

However, city officials ultimately decided it would be less expensive to pay for the repairs annually through the city budget.

Addressing the 57 miles of roads that need repairs is expected to cost about $7.8 million, according to public services department estimates, Luttrell said.

If the City Council approved allocating at least $500,000 per year in the city’s budget for road projects, Luttrell said public works crews could get caught up on road repairs — in a piecemeal fashion — possibly within five years. The department would then shift its focus to general road maintenance.

“That will accomplish what we have to do in a period of time and cost us less than our bond payment would,” he told city councilors at their meeting.

During the spring budget season, Luttrell said the public services department will present a list of road projects that are a priority and come up with the costs associated with the work.

 



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