Houlton unveils preliminary plans for downtown sidewalk project

3 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — The town of Houlton officially released construction plans for its downtown sidewalk project, which is set to begin next summer. 

The project has been in the works since 2016, when the town received a $400,000 grant from the Maine Department of Transportation to improve its brick-layered sidewalks along the downtown area of Main Street and Market Square. The red-brick sidewalks add to the scenic downtown’s charm, but have fallen into poor condition over the years from harsh Aroostook winters.

At a special public hearing held at the Houlton Town Office on Aug. 25, Houlton Community Development Director Nancy Ketch said the sidewalks would replace the bricks with a colored stamped asphalt, to give the impression of a brick sidewalk without the underlying structural issues. 

“We want to maintain that appearance,” said Ketch. “It will look like brick, but will not cause some of the problems we’ve had with the brick that’s been down there. As lovely as it looks, it has caused some problems.”

The brick replacements won’t be the only changes occurring in Market Square as part of the project. Several crosswalks will be removed to make way for greater parking space, and a set of stairs on the west end of Market Square will be removed, emphasizing the use of ramps for better wheelchair access.

“I think a big piece of this was trying to look at accessibility for businesses and getting from parking to the sidewalk, trying to improve the ramps for individuals with wheelchairs,” said Patrick Adams, a member of the Maine DOT who attended the public hearing. 

Engineering for the project is to be done by the James W. Sewall Co. of Old Town, with the Maine DOT also contributing to the new look for the downtown.