Main Street to be resurfaced

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:48

    Mayor wants to remove the 'bump outs’ from town center curbs Sparta — The bids are in and a contract has been awarded for a project to give Sparta’s Main Street a face lift. The township received a $135,000 Streetscape Improvement Grant from the Department of Transportation last year and recently accepted a bid of $105,000 to do the work, which is set to begin this month, Township Manager David Troast announced at the council meeting last week. However, Mayor Jerry Murphy suggested the project also include removing the curb bump outs that protrude into the street in two places along Main St. between the Sparta Avenue jug handle and the Municipal Building. He believes these were a mistake and should be removed because they are a nuisance and are constantly struck by motorists and snow plows. He said he has heard multiple complaints regarding the bump outs over the years. He suggested using the remaining $30,000 from the grant. Although this was not part of the original bid specifications, Murphy said the work could be put in as a change order. Troast explained the bump outs were mandated by the DOT and were intended as a traffic calming feature to prevent distracted drivers from hitting cars that may be parked along Main St. He said if a change order were put in now, the township would have to get DOT approval once again. Troast said this could delay the project beyond current optimal weather conditions and work may not begin until spring. Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith said with the new Stop and Shop opening she thinks the added safety feature along Main St. is important. She asked if Troast received many citizen complaints about the bump outs and he replied that in the 11 years he has worked for the township, he has received only four or five complaints. He explained the bump outs used to have reflectors on them to help motorists see them better, but those have worn off over the years and have not been replaced. Deputy Mayor John Schon said perhaps it would not be advisable to go against an existing DOT requirement and request the removal of the bump outs because it could delay the project and he would not want to run the risk of losing the grant funds. Schon said, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Murphy called the bump outs an anomaly. He said, “You don’t see them anywhere else.” Murphy told the Independent work could begin as scheduled and proceed as planned and then the change order could be submitted to the contractor when the project is well underway. He said in this way the work would not be delayed pending DOT approval. He added, “What contractor would say no to extra work these days?”