By JOHN HOWELL Half a repaved road is better than none. That's what you would imagine unless you live on the neglected half or are faced with a half with potholes in a major neighborhood thoroughfare. Frederick Street and Budlong Avenue in Norwood are
Half a repaved road is better than none. That’s what you would imagine unless you live on the neglected half or are faced with a half with potholes in a major neighborhood thoroughfare.
Frederick Street and Budlong Avenue in Norwood are two of many city roads that were “half repaved” after National Grid replaced aging gas lines three and four years ago. At the time, the city insisted Grid repave the full lane of travel and not just the narrow trench dug to replace the lines. But that left the other lane of travel untouched.
Many Norwood streets are now in the process of being repaved from shoulder to shoulder, and some residents are asking why Frederick Street – which runs in front of the Norwood Branch of the Warwick Boys and Girls Clubs and is a block away from Norwood Elementary – hasn’t been included in the repaving program.
The answer, as Department of Public Works Director Eric Earls explained, is that the city has a finite amount of money for repaving and it is seeking to address the roads most needing repair or heavily traveled first. Half-and-half roads aren’t a high priority even though a repaving team may be working in a neighborhood and it would make sense to extend the project while they’re there.
“It’s tough to justify [the money] when half the road is good,” Earls said.
A visit to Frederick Street on Monday found an orange cone standing in a pothole at the intersection of Budlong.
Lifelong Norwood resident Kathy Perkins inquired why a reporter was taking pictures.
Her conclusion is that many neighborhood streets need repaving.
“They [the city] want us to pay taxes but do nothing,” she said.
Some neighbors aren’t as cynical. They just want to know how the city goes about picking roads to repave. They have called the DPW and mayor’s office but were never given an answer.
Asked if Frederick Street might be an exception because of safety issues involving vehicles swerving to avoid broken pavement and endangering kids walking or hitting an oncoming vehicle, Earls said the department would be looking at that. But repaving the full road at this time doesn’t appear likely despite the heavier traffic it gets because of the school and Boys and Girls Club.
“There’s something in every neighborhood,” Earls said. He pointed to roads in and around Wyman School that he said are “in bad shape.”
Fortunately, half-and-half roads are on the way out.
Rather than have Grid repave half a road after replacing gas mains, the city and the company agree on what it would cost to repave the full road. Grid then pays its share to the city with the money flowing into the city’s repaving program.
Of the $10 million low-interest bond the city obtained from the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank under a three-year repaving program initiated by the late Mayor Joseph Solomon, Earls said about $6 million remains available for repaving. The repaving program has been focused on areas where Grid is replacing its infrastructure so as to extend the repaving dollars. Earls said that Grid is doing so much work that for the $2.5 million the city spent last year, it actually received almost $4.5 million of work.
High on the list for repaving are Sandy Lane between Wildes’s Corner and Warwick Avenue, as well as Jefferson Boulevard. Former DPW Director David Picozzi, brother of the mayor, identified Jefferson Boulevard as the most challenging repaving project faced by former Mayor Scott Avedisian. Not only is Jefferson Boulevard long, but it is also four lanes and a major commercial road. Repaving it will be substantially expensive and promises to delay traffic.
Earls looks to repave Jefferson Boulevard in segments to spread the cost over several years while still repaving neighborhood streets. He said he would be talking with Grid to see if there could be some overlap with their ongoing pipe replacement.
Mayor Picozzi is anxious to have Sandy Lane repaving bumped up from its scheduled repaving next year to this year. He called Sandy Lane one of the most heavily traveled city roads. Before moving ahead with that project, Picozzi wants to make certain that utility services – water, sewer and gas – for two Sandy Lane condo projects currently under construction are completed.
As for half-and-half roads, Picozzi sympathizes with residents but is bent on repaving the worst roads. Half-and-half roads are half good or half bad … it depends which way you’re driving.