Planning to drive from Bangor to Ellsworth or Ellsworth to Bangor anytime soon? Just go to the Maine Department of Transportation’s website at http://mainedot.gov, and you will get the latest word on the current reconstruction and widening project, what delays to expect, and a map showing the 7-mile stretch where the work is going on.
The $18 million job is part of the Maine Department of Transportation’s plan to bring up to modern standards this part of a key route to Down East regions and Acadia National Park. It also serves heavy commuter and shopping traffic between Bangor and Ellsworth.
When the Brewer end of the route was redone a few years ago, motorists often had to wait until they got there to know what was in store. Now the DOT tells its story on the Internet for major projects. On the current job, the department worked with the Ellsworth Area and Bar Harbor chambers of commerce to use newspapers, radio spots and posters to keep commuters, tourists and residents informed. Anyone can sign up for e-mail updates from the DOT, and the Ellsworth Police Department alerts motorists on its Facebook page about unanticipated delays.
Crews have now begun working through the night as well as in daytime. The latest DOT statement says that the current removal of existing pavement, grading and repaving will continue through the fall. An additional layer of pavement is to be laid down in the spring of 2011 with completion of the project scheduled for July 2011. The improved stretch, like the completed Brewer-Dedham stretch, will have 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot paved shoulders.
Project manager Ernie Martin says the around-the-clock working schedule should reduce the length and number of delays. Longer delays will be scheduled for the night hours when traffic is lighter. He says that about 30 blasting events will take place this summer and must be done in daytime, causing delays of 15 to 30 minutes. And Route 1A will be shut down completely on two weekends with traffic detoured on Red Bridge Road, which connects with Christian Ridge Road in Ellsworth.
The department urges motorists to plan ahead, choose the route that best fits their travel plans and, as the statement puts it, “enjoy the sites, shops and eateries along the way.”
So think positively as you navigate the project that will lead to a much-improved highway. And keep up-to-date on the DOT website before you travel.