ST. JOHN | Blame it on the early onset of winter temperatures or on the overly optimistic predictions of town officials.

When Walsh and Kelly was awarded the contract in August for more than $5 million in paving around town, officials were confident the 20 miles of roads would be completed before the asphalt plants closed for the year. Instead, work shut down Nov. 8 with a little more than half the paving done.

Not to worry. Work will resume in the spring on the remaining eight to 10 miles left undone, Town Manager Steven Kil said.

The council decided in April to borrow $5.2 million to reconstruct Joliet Street and Patterson Street and repave a plethora of neighborhood streets all over the town.

Walsh and Kelly's bid of $4.77 million was a positive sign because it was low enough to think about adding about half a dozen other small pieces - cul de sacs and short stretches of neighborhood roads - that were bid as alternates.

The council also spent $10,000 to have Standard & Poors evaluate the town's bond rating situation. That resulted in the town's rating being raised from A to AA, which meant it was able to get a lower interest rate on the bonds, 2.9 percent, and the buyer of the bonds also had to pay a premium of more than $200,000, which was used to pay for the added street work.

The remaining amount of the bond issue went to pay for legal fees and financing costs.

To do the paving, Kil said the town was divided into quadrants with the center at U.S. 41 and 93rd Avenue. The paving started in the northwest quadrant and proceeded counter clockwise so as not to interfere with the major road reconstruction projects.

Nine miles of neighborhood streets were completed along with the Joliet and Patterson work, another 2.3 miles.

The delay in completing the paving work will not have any impact on the cost of the contract, and councilmen said at the Nov. 20 council meeting they had received many calls from residents happy with the work.

Kil praised Walsh and Kelly's work as "very timely, professional and good quality."

Residents also should be glad the work will not increase their taxes. The bonds, which will be paid off in 2029, are being retired with revenue from the town's share of the county's economic development income tax and money from the town's cumulative capital development levy. The council did approve an increase in the levy in July to the maximum 5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The levy decreases as the town's assessed value increases, and, over the years, it had dropped to one cent per $100. Residents interested in learning if their street is still on the list of those to be done in the spring can look on the town's website. The total represents about 20 percent of the 101 road miles the town maintains.

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