WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday voted to award $540,000 in contracts for improvements to Cool, Wolfe and Greenwood streets, as well as Patricia Terrace.
Councilors voted 7-0 to award a $240,674 contract to B&B Paving, of Hermon, to reclaim and repave Greenwood, Wolfe and Patricia; and $299,718 to Wellman Paving Inc., of Hampden, for upgrading Cool Street and making improvements to sidewalks and curbs. The city will pay only half of the cost of the Cool Street project; the state will pay the other half.
The council voted on the road contracts just after David Powell of Deeb Street addressed councilors about another road-related issue.
Powell said traffic lights installed in the city two years ago have disrupted traffic flow downtown. He said he sits at red lights for long periods of time, waiting for the lights to turn green and wasting fuel, when there are no other vehicles in sight.
“I have lived up here for 26 years and I do use the downtown regularly,” Powell said. “I live two blocks from here.”
He cited as an example the intersection in front of the fire station on College Avenue. Sometimes, he said, the light stays on red so long the traffic is backed up all the way to Getchell Street to the north.
“Those sensors up on top are just junk,” he said.
Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, said the sensors on the traffic lights are not always turned on, but when they are on, they are on timers. The light system, he said, can be re-programmed.
“It is something that they can change,” Thomas said.
Powell recommended that the light at the intersection of Main and Temple streets downtown be a blinking light.
City Manager Michael Roy said he did not think there were problems with the way the traffic light system is working in the city, but Powell disagreed.
“When they put the lights in two years ago, they dumbed down the system,” he said.
Roy suggested Powell contact him so they could discuss the matter further.
Meanwhile, Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, said sometimes people encounter problems with traffic lights as they enter Kennedy Memorial Drive from Grove Street. Roy said he has heard people say that traveling on Kennedy Memorial Drive from Interstate 95 to Silver Street is 100 times better than it was before the traffic lights were put in and programmed.
Councilor O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, said motorists have to wait twice as long at the traffic light in front of the fire station as they do on Elm Street, and added: “And I don’t go more’n 55.”
His comment drew laughter from the council chambers.
Later, O’Donnell asked Public Works Director Mark Turner if this has been a tough season for potholes.
“College Avenue is like a mine field,” O’Donnell said.
“It is very bad,” Turner replied. “The state is scheduled to pave it this year, but it won’t be till August.”
At that, Roy took the opportunity to toss O’Donnell a good-natured dig.
“It must give you quite a jolt at 55 mph,” Roy said, drawing laughter.
O’Donnell quickly retorted: “That’s why you go 55 mph.”
In other matters, Roy reported that as of Feb. 7, there were six properties in the city for which taxes had not been paid.
The property owners have an additional 30 days to pay their taxes, and within that 30 days, they must pay all back taxes to avoid foreclosure, he said.
Councilors also heard a presentation on a marketing plan for the city.