Morrisville may seek to save money by changing the material in sidewalks on some of its side streets.
A proposed amendment to the town’s sidewalk policy calls for side streets, where the traffic is “substantially generated” by the residents who live on those streets, to be made of asphalt, rather than more expensive — but longer lasting — concrete.
“The cost of concrete is pretty significant, and we can get a lot further with the same amount of money being used on blacktop,” town administrator Eric Dodge said during Monday’s selectboard meeting.
Town highway superintendent Kevin Barrows said it might also be easier for town road crews to clear snow from asphalt sidewalks. They don’t have that tell-tale groove every few feet that generations of children have avoided, lest they break their mama’s back.
“The asphalt is going to be smooth right down through, so you won’t get that bang, bang, bang” of a blade nicking the concrete cracks, Barrows said.
The proposed policy gives the selectboard discretion in determining which routes through the village are considered main streets and which are side streets.
Dodge said, off the top of his head, main streets include Elmore, Park, Portland, Bridge, Brooklyn streets and, naturally, Main Street. He said they are heavily used by both pedestrians and vehicles, and the sidewalks would remain concrete.
He added some byways, like Union Street, don’t even have sidewalks. They are just slightly wider streets and people walk on the side of the road. If a sidewalk gets built on one of those streets, he said, it would be much cheaper to use asphalt.
Board member Judy Bickford said the proposed policy change gives the selectboard the authority to determine how to classify the village streets, and it doesn’t have to make that blanket determination right away.
“I think we can make that determination when it’s time to replace that sidewalk,” Bickford said.
Board member Jess Graham said she’d prefer to not sign off on the policy change until the selectboard determined which streets would be designated as heavier use and have concrete sidewalks and which are more lightly used and would have asphalt.
“I’m a little concerned that if we don’t designate main versus side street explicitly, does that leave us open to critique around favoritism?” Graham wondered, adding a lot of people have been talking about sidewalks of late.
The other board members agreed that some areas, like Congress or Maple streets, both of which lead up to Copley Hospital, are frequently used by people who don’t live on them, and currently have concrete sidewalks, but they are technically side streets.
Ultimately, the policy change was tabled until the town determines what is a main street and what isn’t.