Rutted & Potholed No More

By Betsy Levinson

Littleton Independent - Friday May 23, 2008, 2:50 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

Littleton -

Those signs reminding motorists about how awful Goldsmith Street is can finally come down.

And your tires won't get out of alignment going to Long Lake now that the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)'s Transportation Planning and Programming Committee has put repairing the pothole-ridden road on its accelerated project list for fiscal 2008, said Town Administrator Keith Bergman.

Bergman said he got final word from the state highway authorities that Goldsmith Street repair will, in all likelihood, begin in 2009.

"It was a combination of dogged persistence and happy coincidence," said Bergman on Friday.

He gave credit to the legislative delegation for "pulling hard in the last few months" to get the project fast-tracked. But he said the unanimous Town Meeting vote a few weeks ago to borrow $1 million to start the ambitious $10 million roads program demonstrated to the state that Littleton has dedicated some real money toward its roads.

Bergman said the regional MPO, using federal funds, honed its list of projects to include only those that had permits ready and proper authorizing votes in order.

"Goldsmith Street made the "ready to go category," Bergman said. "Then we had to stay on top of the agencies and push this through."

The persistence paid off when some of the projects on the federal list fell off because they were not in the "ready to go" category.

"Some federal 2008 funds suddenly became available, and will now be directed to Goldsmith Street," said Bergman.

He said there is approximately $19 million this year that is available for roads, but some projects "were, in fact, not ready," he said.

A key feature of transportation funds, Bergman said, is that if a town does not use the money when it becomes available, "you lose it."

So the state "de-programmed" some $19 million, and in its wake, moved up the "ready to go" projects.

He said there is $22 million for towns "on the short list," and Goldsmith is slated for $5.7 million.

"We had less than a week to prepare for meeting with state officials," Bergman said. So he took photos of the signs decrying the condition of the road, and the Town Meeting vote for $1 million to show the town is committed.

"It showed them that roads were a top priority," said Bergman.

Bergman said the regional planning authority would give the town $5.2 million, and with the town's $1 million the total comes to $4.2 million and a promise of immediate implementation.

He said bidding the job will start in the fall.

"That sign was important," he said.

When he was considering the job in Littleton, he noticed that hand-painted sign on plywood, and thought he'd like to take the street on as a challenge.

"It has been on my mind much of the time," said Bergman.

He walked up to the homeowner's house and introduced himself to share the good news recently. He suggested that the sign might come down now.

But Bergman said not right away. He didn't want to jinx anything.

The entire 1.45-mile stretch from Shaker Lane to King Street will be undertaken as a whole.