Classes are over, graduation and reunion are past, and summer brings a variety of improvements to buildings, grounds, and roads on campus. A long-awaited, million-dollar road construction project on Campus Drive past the athletic center and soccer fields is underway, with work (and traffic delays) slated to continue into August.
The roadwork is taking place in the shadow of a tall crane being used to erect the new $11.25-million biomass steam plant and adjacent to a multiyear initiative to create environmental buffers to improve water quality in Johnson Pond. On Roberts Row, Treworgy Hall is in the midst of renovation and expansion with completion planned in time for the opening of school.
The Campus Drive project is a partnership among the Maine Department of Transportation, the City of Waterville, and Colby. The project’s budget is $997,769 to rebuild or repair more than a half-mile of road, according to project manager John Lombardi, assistant city engineer in Waterville.
The road surface had deteriorated even before the spike in asphalt prices several years ago, and the economic recession prevented the state, which owns the road, and the city, which shares responsibility for maintenance, from budgeting for repairs. City Manager Michael Roy ’74 called it one of the worst roads in Waterville last fall when the three-way agreement was announced.
How bad is the roadway? “Welcome to Nigeria!” said Tendai Mutunhire ’13J, from Zimbabwe, bouncing through potholes, puddles, and frost heaves in a vehicle during spring break.
Of the 2,700 feet slated for repair from the intersection with Mayflower Hill Drive to the bridge over I-95, about two thirds will be thorough reconstruction from the gravel roadbed up, said Lombardi, with the rest to be repaved. “Drainage is the big key,” he said. “Without drainage, the road falls apart.”
Besides an underground stormwater drainage system, curbing will be installed to help manage runoff, explained Director of Physical Plant Patricia Murphy. That will affect parking alongside Campus Drive by the pond and athletic fields, so the project includes creation of a new off-road parking lot just west of the practice fields as well as improvements to a parking area near the soccer game field.
Curbing will also channel stormwater away from Johnson Pond, just one strategy in play to remediate water quality. Murphy said that “as with many urban ponds,” Johnson Pond faces water-quality challenges, including nutrient-laden inflow from roads, lawns, and parking lots.
Recent plantings and mulching along the shoreline and construction of a settling pond near the picnic area off Washington Street are one phase of a three-year plan to create buffers that will filter and clean runoff as it enters the pond, she said. The first of two docks has been installed to help people get to the water (and ice, in the winter) without disrupting the shoreline. The College is working with Mohr & Seredin landscape architects of Portland and with a consulting aquatic biologist on the pond’s water quality, Murphy said.