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Angle of Main Street sidewalks a concern

September 23, 2009
LITTLETON—The angle of some of the newly installed sidewalks have both residents and town officials worried, enough so that the town is going to require they be fixed.

During last week's Board of Selectmen meeting, the steep angle of one half of the newly built sidewalks in front of the Village Book Store came under discussion. While the half of the sidewalks that are closest to the road are level, the half closest to the buildings are too steep.

The sidewalks are being replaced as part of the Main Street reconstruction project, which is replacing water and sewer infrastructure, and replacing sidewalks along the roadway from the Opera House to the Littleton Diner, which is located across the street from the Post Office.

Greg Bakos, an engineer working for the town, said the angle was steep because the work crews were trying to get a smooth roadway. He said they were trying to match the building to the roadway and that another step might be needed at the bookstore. He said the sidewalks could be changed later if necessary.

Selectmen said they had received a number of complaints about the sidewalks, which are also not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

John Scott, a local physical therapist, was present at the meeting and said he shared those same concerns. He predicted a number of accidents on those sidewalks in the next few years that would likely result in wrist and hip fractures.

Town Manager Chuck Connell agreed with Scott.

"We take the position that it must be changed now," Connell said. "What we have there creates a liability to the town and someone could get hurt."

Some sidewalks near the AHEAD building and the diner have been replaced, but are being done as asphalt, Bakos said. That is because they are part of the Main Street project part two, which is already designed. Currently there is no funding for the project. The sidewalks had to be replaced because they were damaged during the current construction project.

Looking elsewhere on Main Street, Bakos said there have been some cost overruns and delays that have put the $3.7 million project slightly over budget by about $200,000. Among the extra work was removing ledge, dealing with an old sewer line thought to be inactive, removing old concrete sidewalks which were originally thought to be asphalt. Also, the design of the roadway base was inadequate and had to be beefed up, Bakos said.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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