With hundreds of students crossing Mayflower Hill Drive daily to get to the Diamond Building, with another academic building planned across the street from the main part of campus, and with the condition of roadway deteriorating, repairs and improvements to the main road through Colby's campus have been a priority for the College for several years.
After the state and city determined that funds were not available to fix the road, a state Department of Transportation plan and City Council approval gave Colby ownership, control of, and responsibility for one mile of Mayflower Hill Drive through campus in spring 2008. The College estimated that $5 million or more was needed to rebuild the roadway with traffic-calming features to slow down vehicles near crosswalks, bike lanes, turnouts, landscaping, and state-of-the-art drainage control and run-off treatment to minimize environmental impact.
Temporary repairs and an overlay of new pavement were made in 2008, .
The primary concern is safety, President William Adams said at City Council hearings. With several thousand pedestrian crossings per day, traffic speeds on Mayflower Hill Drive are too high, he said. Traffic-calming features like raised speed tables at crosswalks, signs, landscaping, and other visual cues are planned to slow cars down.
While Colby now owns the roadway, the agreement among Colby, DOT, and Waterville stipulates that the College may not close the road until 2015, and College officials stressed at the public hearings that the College has no plans to do so. As part of the agreement, Colby provided $250,000 to Waterville for improvements on roads that may see increased traffic once the traffic calming is installed.
At the public hearing David Bernier '79, a former Waterville mayor, recalled a similar transaction in the 1980s. He said he was on the council when the city abandoned the road between Miller Library and Lorimer Chapel, in part because of similar concerns about pedestrian safety on campus.
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