Bellevue discusses streetscape

In response to questions and concerns about Bellevue’s Lincoln Avenue streetscape project, the borough council met with the project landscape architect at Tuesday’s pre-council meeting.

Brad Hazelwood said that some final aspects of the latest phase of the project are being finished now. -The contractor is in the process of removing the gravel from the tree pits and replacing it with a flexible paving material. Some areas where the asphalt or gravel has settled will be dug out and brought level to eliminate dips in the pavement, he said, and an electrician is due to begin installing the new lighting.

Both the mayor and members of council questioned the use of cobblestones on certain areas of the street. All said that the surface is uneven and presents a hazard for people in wheelchairs, using walkers, pushing a stroller, or even just tripping as they walk around to get into their vehicles. Hazelwood said that the use of cobblestone was intentional, part of an effort to visually differentiate areas that are designated as loading zones and where parking is prohibited. It is the nature of cobblestone to be uneven, he said. He did agree, however, to dig out those areas and create a base that would allow the surface to be more even.

Another problem cited by council member Linda Woshner and others is continued flooding on Lincoln Avenue during rain storms. Although Hazelwood disagreed, Woshner maintained that the areas completed during the first two phases of the project continue to flood, while storm water kept moving in the area of the phase three and four storm sewer inlets. Hazelwood maintained that the problem was the amount of water pouring onto Lincoln Avenue from side streets during heavy rains, and not the design of the streetscape or the installation of the bump-outs. The entire region has a storm water management problem, he said. Some flooding problems might be eliminated when the street is paved next year, Hazelwood said.

“You were supposed to have the solution,” Woshner responded.

Woshner also asked why pavers were being used in the crosswalks, when the borough had done exactly that in the past and discovered that they were a major maintenance problem and quickly were damaged. Hazelwood said that a better base was installed beneath these pavers, so they should last longer.

Hazelwood also was asked to check on specific problem areas in which a recently installed sidewalk has already cracked, and sidewalks where water is collecting in front of several businesses.

Hazelwood took exception to statements made by two council members at the last regular meeting. At that meeting, Woshner had said she was told by a DPW supervisor from another municipality that the design and workmanship were the worst he had ever seen. “I have a problem with that,” Hazelwood said, noting that many people are enjoying the esthetics of the changes. He also responded to council member Tom Hrynda’s concern that Hazelwood essentially was inspecting his own work. In fact, Hazelwood said, as the project designer he was inspecting the contractor’s work, a common practice.

He said that a final inspection of the latest phase will take place soon. Council asked that the director of administrative services and the borough’s DPW supervisor go along for that inspection.

Council members Kathy Coder and Grant Saylor were absent from the meeting.