Berlin Eyes Summer Road Work

BERLIN — Several streets and sidewalks in Berlin are likely to get a facelift this summer after Public Works Director Mike Gibbons briefed the Mayor and Council on his department’s short-term goals.

The crux of Gibbons’ presentation Monday centered on Germantown Road and Buckingham Lane, both of which are in need of attention.

“We identified these areas as the worst and the ones that really needed work this year,” said Gibbons.

Mayor Gee Williams agreed, calling the roads “clearly the worst still left in town” and noting that a long section of Germantown Road was “substandard.”

According to Gibbons, work on Germantown Road will include re-alignment, shoulder repair and the removal and replacement of several damaged sections. Likewise, Buckingham Lane is slated for some work, though not as extensive.

“We’re trying to get a few more years of life out of the road,” Gibbons said.

While the current plan calls for the implementation of an asphalt wedge on Buckingham Lane, Gibbons advised against too many improvements for the bedraggled road at this time, saying that they “wouldn’t be a good investment.”

Considering the present condition of Buckingham Lane on the south end of town, Gibbons estimated that the wedge should help draw out another two to three years of life from the lane, at which time total revitalization can be discussed. Currently, such a large scale project would be difficult to manage.

Williams felt likewise, taking note of the “$1 million plus” expected cost for a complete overhaul of the road. The improvements being suggested by Public Works, he said, should serve to keep Buckingham Lane in a good spot for at least the near future.

“By fall, they should have a decent, flat road,” Williams said.

Councilwoman Lisa Hall pointed out that Buckingham Lane will need to be carefully watched by the town at all times, especially since it is a major pathway to Worcester Preparatory School and the county ball fields and Little League park.

“It gets a lot of school bus traffic,” she said.

The wedge will “definitely help the drivability” on Buckingham Lane, said Gibbons, who went on to float the idea of making the lane one-way. While the proposal would help save the edges of the road from deterioration, the council quickly dropped the idea, citing the traffic and commute issues that could arise from making the road only serve one direction.

Williams noted that there would be special difficulty in reaching adjacent athletic fields if traffic could only flowed one way. Gibbons agreed that the change could present a host of problems.

Other repairs or improvements mentioned during the presentation include a proposed crosswalk at N. Main Street and the Farmer’s Market; curb repair on Franklin Avenue; sidewalk repair outside of town hall; and sidewalk installation on Flower Street, picking up near East Branch Street where work halted last year and continuing toward Railroad Avenue until this year’s funds are depleted, with any additional work to be finished next year.

The total cost for work this year will be about $70,000 for sidewalks and $54,300 for street improvements. Gibbons told the council that concrete work should be done within three weeks, with asphalt finished about three weeks after that, putting the improvements on-track for a late-September completion.