Media Archive

Milo seeks action on Elm St. project

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 18, May 05, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

MILO It's been a long road to haul for this town, waiting for the state Department of Transportation to release funding for the reconstruction of Elm Street.

The road, also known as Route 16, is the primary thoroughfare for commuters and tourists headed eastbound to Interstate 95 and Bangor. A state-aid highway, it falls under the jurisdiction of the state for maintenance and upkeep. It has been bounced on and off the DOT'S biennial budget plan, calling for the reconstruction of the roadway which is considered unsafe, sporadically for the past decade.

As the Milo Water District moves forward this summer with plans to replace and upgrade aging water and sewer mains along that road, a project that initially began in coordination with the state's Elm Street project, Town Manager Jane Jones wants to hear some good news for a change from the DOT regarding the 2005 construction season.

"Patience is a virtue, but we're out of it," said Jones on Tuesday, when asked about the DOT project.

Jones said that the approximately mile-long, road reconstruction project, estimated to cost the state more than $1 million, has fallen in and out of favor with the DOT since it was first included in the department's biennial budget in 1996. Although the state has moved forward with the purchase and tearing down of a building on the comer of Elm and, Main streets, she noted, and spent money on engineering to reconstruct the road, the project was again missing from the 2004-05 budget plans. Apparently, and with much disappointment on the part of local town officials as well as Elm Street residents, it did not sit high enough on the state's priority list, she said.

A meeting of the board of selectmen Tuesday night was expected to involve landowners along Elm Street along with officials from the Milo Water District. Jones said the selectmen are interested in starting a public campaign, complete with a petition, to attract lawmakers' attention to the crumbling roadway and the need for reconstruction.

"We're going to put together a public campaign to express to our leaders in Augusta that this stretch of 1.1 miles or so of Milo needs attention ... in the 2005 construction season," Jones said.

With the Milo Water District's project coming up this summer, she said, something must be done to the roadway. She said patching the road would be "an ineffective band-aid ..which simply cannot be allowed."

For the safety of all drivers along that roadway, Jones explained, the DOT must address the intersection at Elm and Main streets. Watching two 18-wheelers trying to negotiate turns around that comer at the same time "is a nightmare," she said.

In addition, Jones noted that the road's overall condition reflects, poorly on the town, and runs contrary to the region's efforts for economic development and growth.

By upgrading the water mains and the road, the town is put in a better position to market itself to prospective businesses looking to relocate. "To have the main eastbound road in that kind of condition is intolerable," she said.

That stretch of Elm Street has not seen a major reconstruction since the 1950s, according to Todd Pelletier, project manager with the DOT. "The road's in terrible shape," he said in an interview with the Observer in 2002.

Jones said that the minor inconvenience of rerouting traffic along Elm Street this summer, as the water district completes its installation project, will be worth it in the end. "The final outcome will be so much better in terms of the water infrastructure for the community," she said. "It'll be a fine project."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.