Roads Scholarship


By Stephen Collins '74
Photography by Mark Nakamura

With the Diamond Building and Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center in use across the street from the academic quad, pedestrian crossings on campus are way up and drivers are not slowing down. Though the College has been eager to install traffic calming features to slow traffic through campus, neither the state nor the city has been able to come up with money for such a project, much less to rebuild the roadway, which is badly deteriorated.

Increased pedestrian traffic and deteriorating road conditions led Colby to take over a mile of Mayflower Hill Drive. Plans call for reconstruction of the road, including the portion shown here, across from the Diamond Building.
As a result, a three-way agreement was hammered out this spring giving Colby ownership of one mile of the former state-aided municipal road. While that means Colby can now call the shots on the speed limit and features like raised intersections and landscaping to slow down vehicles, it also means Colby foots the bill for reconstruction, estimated at $5 million, as well as future maintenance and repairs.

The first priority for Colby is safety. A recent survey showed an average vehicle speed of 37 m.p.h. and counted 2,300 pedestrian crossings per day between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at just one crosswalk. With a science building planned on Colby Green, pedestrian traffic across Mayflower Hill Drive will only increase in coming years.

During City Council hearings on the transfer of ownership and responsibility to Colby, some residents and elected officials opposed the deal citing fears that Colby would close the road to through traffic. President William Adams replied: “We have no plan, no intention, no vision, no reason to interrupt traffic on that road,” according to Morning Sentinel coverage of one meeting.

While potholes, broken pavement, and a sinking roadbed have created a bumpy ride through one of the nation’s most attractive and best maintained campuses, the deal struck among the College, Waterville, and the Maine Department of Transportation came late enough in 2008 that only temporary repairs and engineering work will be completed this year. Major road reconstruction is scheduled for 2009.
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