Work winds down on Route 1A in Ellsworth

Posted Nov. 16, 2009, at 8:17 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:53 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Work on a 6.5-mile section of Route 1A between Dedham and Ellsworth is expected to wind down soon, although crews could remain at the scene through December depending on the weather.

During the winter lull, officials with the Maine Department of Transportation will develop a strategy to keep motorists informed about delays during construction work next summer.

“Next season there will be a lot of work done,” DOT project manager Ernie Martin said Monday.

The department will close the road to traffic completely on one or two weekends, rerouting motorists onto Red Bridge Road while crews replace a box culvert at Gilpatrick Brook. That is the only complete closure of the road planned, but Martin said there would be delays throughout the summer.

“We’ll have up to six or eight work zones in that stretch,” he said. “If you’ve got a five- or 10-minute delay at each one, you could be looking at an hour delay or more. We’re going to sit down and go over what we can do to mitigate those delays.”

Part of the strategy will be to keep motorists informed about potential delays and alternate routes, Martin said. The DOT likely will use a multimedia approach to provide information, including radio and newspaper notices, as well as social networking media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The $18 million project is two DOT projects rolled into one. The department had planned to reconstruct a section of the road from Wilson’s Corner to Red Bridge Road using state transportation bond funds. The second section, from Red Bridge Road to the Union River Bridge, was added when federal stimulus funds became available earlier this year.

Crews will widen the two sections of road to include 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders, continuing the widening the department did on Route 1A in 2004 and 2005 north on the road into Dedham.

According to Martin, the work this year included clearing and widening the roadway as well as drainage and utility work.

“The clearing is essentially done,” Martin said. “We’ve done a lot of shoulder work and drainage. There’s a lot of utility work to be done.”

Approximately 200 utility poles need to be relocated as part of the project. Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. has been moving its poles, and on Monday crews from FairPoint Communications began moving its poles. Martin said there had been some concern that FairPoint’s bankruptcy might delay that part of the project.

“But they were out there today, so that part is moving along,” he said.

Crews have completed paving for the season and will continue to do gravel and drainage work as long as the weather allows, Martin said. Most other work will cease for the winter, but crews may continue to do some realignment work during the winter months. That will involve blasting in some areas, Martin said, as the crews work to straighten the road to improve sight lines and safety.

All of that work will be done on the southern section of the road and will be off-road work so it should not affect traffic, he said.

Work will begin again in April as crews rebuild the length of the roadway. That will include removing and reclaiming pavement from the road which will be reused to pave Red Bridge Road under an agreement with the city of Ellsworth for using Red Bridge Road as a detour when Route 1A is closed. Many motorists used that road last summer in order to avoid the construction delays.

Most of the major work on the project will be completed by next fall, although the crews will be back in the spring of 2011 for cleanup, loaming and seeding, Martin said.

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