AUGUSTA — City officials are considering improvements when it comes time to put Bond Street back together again.

Dusty and ripped apart by construction crews putting in new underground pipes for a massive Greater Augusta Utilities District project for the last several months, better days could be coming for the short but prominent street that links city gateway Mount Vernon Avenue and Water Street.

City councilors tonight will consider a proposal to go beyond a simple street resurfacing by reconstructing the street, adding granite-curbed sidewalks on both sides, and, possibly, adding “traffic-calming” amenities including traffic islands with new lights and plants.

The utilities district, which had construction crews rip up the street as part of its combined sewer overflow project, is financially responsible for returning the street to the condition it was in before they started the work.

Which wasn’t great, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

So rather than have the street’s pavement patched with utilities district money and returned to its previous condition, city councilors will consider a proposal tonight to combine the utilities district money that would be spent returning the road to its previous condition with city money to rebuild and make improvements to Bond Street.

“The residents there have been tremendously patient with the dust, the noise and disruption to their lives during the construction,” Bridgeo said. “It would be nice to come in and really make that an attractive street.”

A city committee had recommended making improvements to Bond Street before the utilities district project. Officials agreed to wait, at the time, for the utilities district project before moving ahead with improvements.

Bridgeo said the utilities district would provide $71,000 worth of work, the estimated cost of returning Bond Street to its previous condition, for the project.

The city, if councilors approve tonight, would provide up to $119,000 for the improvements.

Bridgeo said the sidewalks and a base coat of pavement could be put in this construction season, with a final coat of pavement coming in the spring.

The improvements may or may not include additions meant to both improve the appearance of the area and slow traffic using Bond Street, such as three islands with older-looking new lighting in the center of the street. Bridgeo said that’s an option for councilors to consider.

City Councilor Patrick Paradis, Ward 3, whose ward includes the Bond Street area, and who grew up in the neighborhood, expressed support for making improvements to Bond Street, but not the traffic islands with trees planted in the center of the street.

“My experience with these so-called traffic-calming islands is they neither calm the traffic or add an awful lot,” Paradis said. “We put these on Townsend Road, and hoped it would reduce speed. It hasn’t. And we lose trees every year. Some culprit destroys the trees there. I don’t think the trees would last long on Bond Street. But I agree it would improve Bond Street, because that street couldn’t be any worse than it is right now.”

The city’s share of the money would come from the city’s downtown tax increment financing account, which is made up of money collected in property taxes paid on new development in the district, not from the city’s general fund, Bridgeo said.

Councilors meet at 7 tonight in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

  • Consider accepting the donation of a 1917 White-Kress fire truck from a Vermont man. Fire Chief Roger Audette said the truck was the city’s first motorized fire truck.
  • Hold a public hearing and consider granting a liquor license to Shenanigans.
  • Consider selling several pieces of vacant land, acquired by the city for nonpayment of taxes.
  • Consider spending up to $33,000 from the downtown TIF district to pay for engineering and design services for improvements proposed to Market Square downtown.
  • Consider a proposed demolition delay ordinance.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

 

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