Delays on Route 1A until Thanksgiving

Posted Sept. 17, 2010, at 10:13 p.m.

WINTERPORT, Maine — Motorists traveling on Route 1A can expect several more weeks of delays as Maine Department of Transportation crews continue to work on a lengthy road reconstruction project until they break for the winter around Thanksgiving.

Work is being done to an older section of the well-traveled artery. Crews are tearing up and rebuilding the pavement and the road substructure. They also are paving the shoulders for the first time and regrading the section for better drainage and sight lines, DOT spokesman Mark Latti said Friday.

“It’s an older section of road that’s never been upgraded to modern standards,” he said. “This eliminates frost heaves and gives the road a longer life. It’s a 20-year fix on that section of road.”

Work began on the seven tenths of a mile stretch of road at the end of August and won’t be completed until next July, Latti said. Daytime traffic on the section, which stretches north from the Washington Street intersection, has been reduced to one lane of dirt road.

At Thanksgiving, traffic will reopen on both lanes, which will have two layers of pavement for the winter months, he said.

The project will cost $2.1 million and is funded through a combination of state and federal highway gas tax moneys, Latti said.

“It is expensive,” he said, adding that road reconstruction generally ranges in price from $1 million to $3 million per mile.

According to Joe Brooks, Winterport Town Council chairman, one reason the roadwork has been taking so long is because the town is replacing its 100-year-old water and sewer lines at the same time.

“We’ve been getting an awful lot of phone calls from people asking what’s going on [with] Route 1,” Brooks said. “It is a real pain on Route 1 to have traffic slowed down to a single lane during the day, but it’s short term. If the weather cooperates with us next spring, we’ll be getting a very, very good Route 1.”

As the DOT crews work, he said, they have been digging extra deep — as much as 10 feet deep — to reach the clay sewer lines that are corroded and can allow raw sewage to flow into the Penobscot River. The water pipes, often made of lead, also date from the turn of the last century and must be replaced with reinforced plastic pipes, Brooks said.

When groundbreaking on that project happened last November, it was slated to cost $1.89 million and be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and rate increases by the Winterport Water District.

“They’ve raised the rates just to complete this job and to make sure we don’t get into a crisis situation with collapsing pipes,” Brooks said.

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