Summer is right around the corner, and the state Department of Transportation is launching some key road projects.
That means, of course, traffic delays along the construction routes, but the state hopes to keep the delays to a minimum, according to DOT spokesman Herb Thomson.
There are 14 DOT construction projects in eastern Maine that are either under way or are scheduled to begin shortly, he said last week, and a few others in the city of Bangor that are bound to slow travelers.
Under way are projects in Bangor, Belfast, Bucksport, Lagrange and Milford and Orono.
In April, when Wal-Mart Stores Inc. won approval to build a 220,000-square foot Supercenter in Bangor, plans were made to begin widening a substantial portion of Stillwater Avenue and Hogan Road between Stillwater and Longview Drive. Other traffic changes in the area near the Bangor Mall are bound to slow traffic this summer and fall.
DOT is building a roundabout at the junction of Maine, Vermont and Texas avenues in Bangor that is designed to provide extra safety at the intersection.
Roundabouts are considered “very safe,” Thomson said. “They’re increasingly becoming a traffic management tool of choice.” That project should be wrapped by fall, he said.
In June, projects are expected to begin in Corinna, Holden-Eddington, Frankfort, Beddington, Crawford, Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor as well as Mount Desert Island.
A major road project to replace ditching and cross pipes on the Bennoch Road, which stretches from Noyes Drive to Godfrey Drive, started last week in Orono and is expected to delay traffic.
“It’s a heavily used road,” Thomson said. “There will be one lane traffic … for an extended period of time. We’re hoping we’ll be able to get in there and out pretty quickly and get it done by the time school starts” in the fall.
Other projects under way include adding 3/4-inches of pavement to U.S. Route 1 starting near the Bucksport-Orland line and extending 3.74 miles into Orland, stopping just before Route 15. That work began in April and must be completed by June 30, Thomson said.
“It’s going to go pretty fast,” he said.
A project that began in April and is expected to be completed by mid-June will add 11/4-inches of pavement to Route 3 for five miles from the Belfast line to about a half-mile before the junction with Route 131.
Two projects begun last year have been continued to this year in LaGrange and Milford.
Construction on the U.S. Route 2 bridge in Milford, which connects the town to Old Town, began in July 2006 and is expected to be finished in August 2008.
And work on Route 155-Route 16 project in LaGrange was picked up again last week and will be completed this year. “There will be alternating one-way traffic” on the LaGrange project, Thomson said.
The project has two sections – approximately 1 mile starting at the junction of Route 16-Route 155 heading east on the Howland Road, and another 6.5 miles heading south on Route 16 into Alton.
A middle portion of the Route 16 project was completed last year.
In June, six projects are scheduled to start in Acadia National Park, as well as between Beddington and Crawford, in Corinna, East Holden and Eddington, and in Winter Harbor. One DOT project also is scheduled for July and one is planned for August.
The Acadia National Park project is a joint effort between the state and the National Park Service. The Park Loop Road project begins at Otter Creek and extends for 10 miles of the Loop Road until its junction with Route 233.
The National Park Service will fund work that the DOT will perform, Thomson said. “They plan to start early. The idea is to have it done before the big [tourist] rush.”
A 15.5-mile pavement preservation project on Route 9 – the Airline – between Beddington, Devereau Township, Wesley and Crawford, is going to begin in June and is expected to be completed this summer, he said.
Maintenance paving on about 5 miles on Route 46 between Holden and Eddington will begin in June with a target completion date sometime “early this summer,” Thomson said.
“We’re using a portable paving plant that … basically grinds up pavement and makes pavement” for the Holden project, he said. “It’s a good economical process for us. We’re trying to make the best use of the resources available.”
During June, a project to fix a twin-multiplate bridge and culverts on the Line Road in Corinna will be advertised with a mid-July start date.
“There may be some short term detours involved,” Thomson said, estimating the project to take just over two months to complete.
DOT also has three projects that will be advertised for bids this month and should begin in June at locations in Frankfort and Winter Harbor and in Ellsworth during August.
The Frankfort project is to replace the Boyd Bridge, located on the western side of town near the Winterport line. The bridge is on the Marsh Stream Road, just south of the Loggin Road, and crosses Meadow Brook.
The town road “will be closed” and residents will need to find alternative routes, Thomson said. “Our goal is to get this done before school starts. By early fall we hope this will be done.”
Traffic signals at the junction of Route 1 and State Street in Ellsworth are scheduled to be changed at the beginning of August.
Two separate jobs on West Bay Road in Winter Harbor will go to bid this month. One will provide bike and pedestrian roadway improvements on 2.84 miles of the eastern portion of the road and another half mile of sidewalk improvements is planned between Hillcrest Drive and Navy Drive.
Three other projects in the area, including one to pave 5 miles of Route 186, have “not been scheduled yet,” Thomson said. “We’ll schedule that depending on our cash flow. We’re managing our projects week to week. Projects in the work plan are reliant on the [June] bonds passing.”