Eight Watertown roads will undergo full repaving in the 2019 construction season, while others will get a new top layer on the the worst sections of the roadway.
Each year the town sets aside $2.5 million in its budget for road repair. The Town Council’s Public Works subcommittee approved the recommendation of the roads to be repaired next year at a meeting Tuesday night. The list, presented by the Department of Public Works, still must get approval of the full Town Council.
The roads that made the list are:
- Bellevue Road, from Channing Road to Common Street
- Avon Road
- Chandler Street
- Burnham Street
- Bridgham Avenue
- Nichols Avenue, from Dexter Avenue to Boylston Street
- Bartlett Street, including Everett Avenue
District C Councilor Vincent Piccirilli, chair of the subcommittee, wondered if the double yellow line would remain on Nichols Avenue.
“The reality is people park on both sides and people drive straddling the double yellow line,” Piccirilli said. “Under traffic laws it is illegal to do so.”
Shuman said that DPW officials can speak to residents and see if they are interested in making one side of Nichols Avenue a no parking zone. They would have to go to the Traffic Commission to request it. Getting rid of the double yellow line may also have other improvements.
“Some people don’t encourage having double yellow lines because it encourages speeding because it feels like a more major street,” Shuman said.
Most of the streets on the list will also have sidewalks installed, but not Bartlett Street and Everett Avenue. Shuman said the DPW learned from Edgecliff Road this year that some road, particularly hilly ones, have challenges: narrow roadways, lots of walls in front of homes and residents don’t always want it. Because Bartlett and Everett are more isolated, Shuman said, the decision was made to only do sidewalk in limited areas.
Handicap accessible ramps will be installed on sidewalks, and the DPW will work with the Tree Warden to look for opportunities to put in new street trees.
The DPW selected the roads because they were in need of repair, said Town Engineer Matt Shuman, but the condition of the roadway is not the only factor.
“We get input from residents,” Shuman said. “A lot of people don’t believe me, but it really does have an impact. We look at the street condition, the condition of sidewalks, we look at geography — a bunch of things.”
One major factor is whether the roadway needs utility line replacements. Some streets in poor condition did not make the list, Shuman said, because they need a water or gas main (or both) replaced.
Just because utility work has been done, however, it does not mean the street will be repaired the next year, Shuman said.
The Town has a catalogue of roads with each one having a score of the condition of the roadway. The survey was updated a few years ago, and each year DPW staff drives around to re-assess the condition, Shuman said.
Piccrilli said Bartlett Street is an example of a road that was brought to the attention of the Town by residents.
District B Councilor Lisa Feltner said that she does not have a copy of the street condition index.
“I wish we had more data that backs up the presentation,” Feltner said. “It would be great to identify the criteria used to rate the roads, and to include a cost breakdown.”
She added that she thinks the list should be available for the public to view.
The street repair list is one of the most data-driven decisions, said District D Councilor Ken Woodland, who sits on the Public Works Committee, but the road condition is not the only factor.
“”When we created the policy, we decided we did not want to do all the bottom rung streets or all the middle rung streets,” Woodland said, adding that some streets will get total repair, while others will have their life prolonged by being milled and overlaid, where the top layer is ground down and a new layer is put on top.
Town officials will reach out to residents of the streets that will be reconstructed, Shuman said. Along with warning them about upcoming work, they will be told of other things they should consider.
“We tell them, if you want to have gas service installed, do it now,” Shuman said. “You are not going to be able to cut into new asphalt.”
Some residents may have to have parts of their driveways ripped out and replaced by the town.
“Often we are changing elevations (of the roadway) and we need to match with people’s driveways,” Shuman said. “People ask how long they will lose access to their driveways, and sometimes it can be a couple days.”