BIDDEFORD (AP) – Several residents of the coastal Fortunes Rocks neighborhood didn’t want the city to pave a nearby road because they feared it would lead to faster driving, water runoff and higher property valuations.

Work crews paved the Elizabeth Road on Friday, months ahead of schedule, despite protests by four local women who laid in the path of the work trucks in an attempt to stop the paving.

“This was such a controversial issue for the last two years,” said Karin Gregory Furman. “We didn’t have an opportunity that allowed us to speak.”

Furman, Suzanne Boucher, Polly Nodden and Cynthia Howard blocked the trucks’ path until Mayor Wallace Nutting and City Manager Edward Clifford arrived and agreed to address their concerns.

Clifford said the city could install speed bumps on the road, and that runoff concerns would be addressed. He said he would speak with City Assessor Frank Yattaw about property valuations, which have been reassessed three times in the last four years.

The women said 12 of 21 homeowners who use the road hoped to keep it unpaved. Only three homowners said they support the project, they said.

In addition, they said Public Works Director Guy Casavant said on Monday that the road would not be paved until late fall at the earliest, which would have allowed time to organize a protest. But grading work began the following day.

Casavant was on vacation and unavailable for comment. However, city officials said an April 2003 survey by supporters of the $31,000 project found 11 homes in favor of paving the road, and four opposed to it.

Clifford said city officals believed nearby homeowners backed the paving.

“The city was trying to be responsive to residents,” he said.

The paving schedule was moved up to keep work crews busy, said Carl Marcotte, Biddeford’s assistant director of public works. In most cases, the city does not notify residents about paving projects.

“Usually the people want us to do it,” he said.

AP-ES-08-21-04 1152EDT

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