Posted roads generate Topsham discussion
TOPSHAM — With the frost disappearing and the roads softening, the Board of Selectmen unanimously authorized Public Works Director Rob Pontau to post several roads in town, barring them from travel by vehicles of excessive weight.
Roads posted as of Monday are Winter Street/River Road from Main Street to Whitehouse Crossing Road, Whitehouse Crossing Road, Meadow Cross Road, Cathance Road, Ward Road and West Merrill Road.
"Posting roads is pretty standard in Maine to try to save what little infrastructure we have left," Pontau told selectmen.
The town ordinance allows for the posting of roads between Nov. 15 and June 1. When the roads are posted and then un-posted is up to Pontau's discretion; the roads could be open again to heavy vehicles well before June 1 if conditions permit.
The posting applies to vehicles registered for a gross weight that exceeds 23,000 pounds, except town vehicles and vehicles of the Topsham Water District or Brunswick Sewer District that are involved at the time in emergency maintenance.
Selectman Steve Edmondson wondered why Pontau could not post the roads on his own, under the authority of Town Manager Jim Ashe, without having to come before the Board of Selectmen every year.
Selectman Jim Trusiani responded that while Pontau is the manager of the roads, "that's town property, and under our form of government the owners of those roads are the five of us," referring to the board.
The board voted two years ago not to allow the posting of roads, Trusiani said, since a majority of members did not think the condition of the roads in question warranted it. Last year the board did vote to do so, he said, adding, "that's why we're here."
Edmondson said he is "not trying to reneg on our responsibility, but I was more interested in streamlining the process." He continued that Pontau has "given us a list of six roads here; I probably drive on two of those with any regularity, so we're trusting his opinion on the need for all six of these to be posted," adding that he would never doubt Pontau's opinion, since he is the keeper of the roads.
Selectmen also voted unanimously to support a regional effort with Brunswick to look into shared services. Board members Sandra Consolini and Michelle Derr were appointed to serve on a joint committee with Brunswick town councilors to discuss those cost-saving ideas.
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.