Another delay for South Street

MILFORD – The long-delayed South Street improvement project is delayed again, this time because the town received no reasonable bids.

The road widening and beautification work has been delayed for years as officials dealt with numer­ous hurdles, including the acquisition of easements from public utilities and property owners and lengthy reviews required by the state Department of Transportation.

Part of Route 13, a state road, South Street leads in and out of the Oval and can be difficult to navigate because it is so narrow. It is lined with several res­taurants, beauty salons and a TD Bank.

The town started plan­ning for the work in 2006, putting money aside for moving utilities under­ground and installing new sidewalks and curbs, with DOT paying 80 percent and the town 20 percent.

The one bid the town received was double the engineering consultant’s estimate of $700,000, Town Administrator Mark Bender said Monday.

"Obviously that is unac­ceptable to the town and DOT," he said, and the town will put the project out to bid again in Octo­ber.

Last year it looked like federal money had dried up, but then town officials learned that the project would be fully funded.

Bender said many con­tractors are busy now, and the city of Portsmouth had to go out to bid on a proj­ect three times before it got an acceptable number.

"Many towns have low or no bidding," he said.

The town hoped to have the lion’s share of the work done before the Pumpkin Festival, but that is not go­ing to happen.

If a contractor is hired, Bender said, some of the work could be done in

the fall, depending on the weather.

The Department of Pub­lic Works had been holding off on needed paving, but because of the latest delay the DPW recently patched the road with asphalt.

"I think the people of Milford have been very patient. It was time to do some repairs," the town administrator said.

Along with new side­walks on both sides of the street to the railroad tracks, the South Street plans call for the gradual widening of the narrow roadway, from 5 to 8 feet, on the west side, and utili­ties buried underground between Union Square (the Oval) and the Chris­tian Science Church.

Between the church and the railroad tracks, overhead utilities will be moved away from the curb.

Another major Milford road project that had ex­perienced delays – the Emerson Road/Armory Road/Route 13 intersec­tion – was completed in the spring.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.