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Roadwork just isn't fun

"For a short, somewhat out-of-the-way street, it has evolved over time into one of the most important throughways in downtown Winslow.After all, humble little Bjune Drive touches the back entrances of Town and Country, the post office, American Marine Bank, Waterfront Park and the Commons – heavily trafficked destinations all. So there was no way that rebuilding it wasn’t going to be a complete pain in the neck for lots of people. And regardless of the announced construction schedule – five months, from April 19 – mere weeks into the project, some were asking: “Why isn’t it done yet?”“In the absence of information,” muses Team Winslow’s Wendy Johnson, “people fill in the worst.”Better communication from all parties involved, including this newspaper, is just one of the lessons to be learned from the Lower Madison/Brien/Bjune road project. Despite the excellent “a-MAZE-ing” public information campaign, we all found it tough to keep abreast of the vagaries of the construction cycle. Tuesday, the intersection’s closed. No, wait – Wednesday. Oops, another delay. Check back next week...But in many ways, “LMBB” served as a prototype for future projects. Potential contractors met face to face with Johnson and local merchants from Day One, to stress the idea that the project was a partnership with the community. It was at the urging of merchants themselves that daily construction hours were extended, to pare the overall schedule down from six months to five. With some sidewalks and striping remaining, the target date of Sept. 19 was obviously missed, but that was largely attributable to unforeseen complications like the discovery of contaminated soil in front of Lundgren Station. Once things get rolling, you really never know what a backhoe might unearth.On the plus side, “the good hasn’t even shown up yet,” Johnson says. “We haven’t even seen the benefit yet this is going to have for the community.”Indeed, for our summer of troubles, a key downtown corridor got a long-overdue revamping. The hideously crumbled Bjune – where westbound drivers routinely veered into the oncoming lane to avoid the pitted asphalt – now gleams like obsidian. Area seniors finally have permanent sidewalks to keep them safe, as they make their way from the quadrangle of Parfitt-area retirement homes to the market and Senior Center. Tourists likewise will be well served as they make their way to waterfront restaurants and other attractions.The project’s master-stroke may have been rerouting the traffic flow from Brien to Bjune Drive, to keep most traffic out of Waterfront Park itself. For that, we can all feel safer.Johnson will host a pair of debriefings – vent sessions, perhaps – for area merchants, at 8 a.m. Oct. 21 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Team Winslow office. If you have comments about what went well, and what didn’t, now’s your time to sound off.And your input will be constructive. Improvements to Madison Avenue and Grow Avenue loom, and Lower Madison/Bjune/ Brien was a dress rehearsal for the planned reconstruction of Winslow Way itself in the summer of 2002.Perhaps for all our efforts, there is simply no way to get this sort of project done with any delicacy. Full-scale road reconstruction is noisy, dusty and inconvenient. It stinks.Maybe we already knew that.But we also know we can survive. We’ve proved it.#######"

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