NORWAY – Selectmen have agreed to solicit bids on a road project, even before town meeting voters approve, in order to get the most competitive price.

“We need to go out to bid to do some ditching right away,” Town Manager David Holt told selectmen Thursday night. “If we wait until town meeting, prices will be higher. There will not be as much competition.”

Bids will be solicited, but a contract will not awarded until after the annual town meeting June 12. Selectmen agreed to the move as long as the bid clearly stated the award would not occur until after June 12.

An estimated $350,000 has been put in the fiscal 2008 Highway Department budget to pay for road improvements including pavement and culverts. Because the road repairs were scheduled before last month’s nor’easter, it is anticipated that the project will be reviewed again once the estimated costs from the storm are gathered and reviewed.

Changes might include more ditching and less paving, Holt said. Highway Superintendent Ron Springer said Friday that if approved, the money may be used to ditch roads and make other improvements such as the upper part of Crockett Ridge Road, Hemingway Road and Frost Hill Road.

Springer said there are three major components to road construction: “drainage, drainage, drainage.” Without proper drainage, he said, water gets under the road, softening the pavements and washing out the roads.

Some years are better than others, he said. “It all depends on the spring. This year, we had storms that took roads out. Last year, we didn’t have that many.”

Federal and state money expected for Oxford County because of last month’s nor’easter will help offset the road repair costs.

Selectmen also agreed Thursday night to award a contract for the Town Farm Road project. The board unanimously gave the job to N.F. Luce Inc. of Anson for $165,225, about $4,500 less than the second bidder, Wilson Excavating of Waterford. That work will include culvert and pavement work.

“It’s an awful challenge for a town like Norway with all those hills,” Holt said of the continual problem of improper drainage causing water to run where it shouldn’t and break up roads. “The truth of it is we can’t fix everything now.”

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