Bath voters weigh $2.5M bond for road work

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BATH — A $2.5 million bond that goes to voters Nov. 5 is aimed at helping the city catch up on road reconstruction.

“Each year we’re getting further and further behind in keeping up with our streets,” Public Works Director Peter Owen said Monday. “And that has to do with the struggle for budgets, normally, and not getting enough money for paving. So even though we’re paving streets, our streets are getting further and further behind, and it gets more expensive, the longer you leave a street.”

Streets addressed more frequently could be repaired with an overlay, but after 10-15 years a street must be ground or reconstructed, and then paved, Owen said. And Bath has a growing number of streets reaching that level.

With the proposed bond, he said, “the effort is to try to catch up to the numerous streets that are reaching that critical stage of really falling apart and requiring much more extensive investment.”

One of those streets is the section of High Street that runs from Leeman Highway to West Bath, a stretch of a little more than three miles. Although it is a state road – Route 209 – the street is inside a Maine Department of Transportation-designated urban compact zone, making its maintenance the responsibility of the city, Owen said.

But the state offers a municipal partnership initiative, through which the city can receive up to $500,000 in grant funding as long it can match that amount, Owen said.

Reconstructing High Street could cost $1.2 million, Owen said. The city applied for the grant and was selected to receive the full $500,000, so the money from the bond would go toward paying the city’s match.

Other streets that the bond funds would address are in north Bath, including Ridge and Whiskeag roads. The city also plans to pave the entire downtown, and money could also be used to apply for more grants.

Work would begin next year, and “we’re looking at at least three to four years to spend that bond,” Owen said.

With interest included over the life of the 15-year bond, its total cost would be $3.3 million.

Polls will be open at Bath Middle School, 6 Old Brunswick Road, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 5.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.