Town’s Sidewalk Project Could Cost $500K

BERLIN – Flower St. sidewalk project’s costs could be nearly $500,000, a town staffer revealed at last Monday’s Berlin Town Council meeting.

Engineering estimates top out at $486,000 for the apparently never-ending project.

“That’s without the contingencies,” said town Administrator Linda Bambary.

The cost, which could be less when bids are received, ballooned from the starting price of $183,000 when significant changes were made to the work.

“The initial application was for the opposite side of the street,” said Bambary.

As first envisioned, plans called for a sidewalk to be added to parts of the south side of the street, which already had several sections of walkway. The idea was to fill in the missing pieces, said Bambary.

That changed to the north side, which boasts only a single section of sidewalk at the Shore Up building, and the cost inflated.

“Then we went into design,” said Bambary. “Then it became we needed storm drains in certain areas.”

Underground utilities need to be relocated as well.

The cost is not fixed and could even go up, with soil and tree replacement needs still unknown, officials said.

The endeavor got off the ground when the town received a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $183,000 in 2005.

While the town had thought it might be able to avoid the easement process and save work and money, Bambary said the town would have to go through it after all.

“I was hoping we wouldn’t have to. It’s really time consuming and we’d have more legal costs,” she said.

Berlin’s code gives the town authority to take land for sidewalks for safety reasons. While that might have released them from the easement, other matters did not.

“We may not need easements for our sidewalk but we need easements for telephone and gas lines,” Bambary said.

Permits are another step in the long journey, with sediment and erosion control permits likely to be necessary. Wetlands permits are probably not required, but ditches near the intersection with Bay St. could complicate matters.

Construction bids will be opened in mid-July, and the contract to build the sidewalks will be awarded in August.

The work must be complete by Oct. 31 to retain the CDBG funds.

A public meeting for Flower St. residents has been tentatively scheduled for the evening of Thursday, June 28.