BERLIN – Residents of Baker Street appealed to town officials last week in an effort to see improvements made to the aging road.
On July 11, longtime Berlin residents Doug and Suzanne Parks asked the town council for road repairs and measures to address speeding on their street. They say Baker Street is seeing at least double the amount of traffic it used to now that Harrison Avenue is closed.
“Baker Street has been inundated with heavy traffic,” Suzanne Parks said. “It’s in dire need of maintenance.”
She said no road work had been done on the street in the nearly four decades she’s lived there.
“There’s not been one bit of maintenance done,” she said. “It’s a disgrace to the town.”
The short road linking Harrison Avenue and West Street is the only one in town still made of cement and oyster shells. Parks says residents of the street don’t want the historic surface eliminated, just repaired. She said its condition was only going to get worse now that it was being used more and more by tractor trailers unable to make the turn from West Street onto Broad Street.
Mayor Gee Williams said town employees were already at work trying to come up with a way to improve the street while maintaining its historic nature.
“Those things are very much on our mind,” he said.
Parks said residents of the street — the majority of whom signed a petition submitted to the town — were also concerned about speeding. She said the installation of speed limit signs and speed bumps would help with that.
“We get speeders that go 45-50 mph,” she said.
Williams said he wasn’t sure how the town could address that, as motorists today simply had no patience.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” he said. “It’s not Baker Street. It’s not Berlin. It’s everywhere.”
Williams said the town was committed to upgrading the street and would explore ways to address the residents’ other concerns. He said restrictions on tractor trailers might be one possibility.
“We’re very much with you on this,” the mayor said. “We’re trying to look for the silver lining in this absurd situation with Adkins Company.”
An impasse between the town and the Harrison Avenue business has resulted in the closure of the section of the street in front of Adkins Company. Company officials have said if the town wants the section of road it will have to buy it. Williams has said the town shouldn’t have to buy a piece of land that’s been used by the public for generations.
Even if the town agreed to buy the section of road, the two parties remain at odds on its price. Town officials value the piece of road at $55,000-$60,000 while the Adkins Company is seeking $400,000. Last month, Williams said the town’s attorney was investigating the matter to determine the “most logical and efficient way” to get the road reopen and the dispute resolved.