CARIBOU, Maine — Gov. John E. Baldacci joined other state and local officials here Monday to break ground on a new highway between Route 161 and Route 1.
“The Caribou Connector is an important transportation enhancement that will provide major benefits to the city of Caribou and Aroostook County,” Baldacci said in a prepared statement. “The improved travel mobility will support increased economic growth by reducing travel times and separating local traffic from thru-traffic.”
The 4.3-mile-long Caribou Connector was recommended as part of the larger Aroostook County Transportation Study, the primary goal of which was to identify transportation improvements that would help lead to future economic growth within the study area.
The two-stage Caribou Connector construction project will enable the city to move forward with plans to further develop the downtown area, making it more pedestrian-friendly, while moving large through trucks to the connector.
“The Caribou Connector will make a positive impact on the region’s economy, while improving the vitality of downtown Caribou,” said Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Cole, who also participated in Monday’s event.
The connector heads east off Route 1 south of the Route 1-Route 89 intersection northeast of Caribou, and continues west until it connects with Route 161 northwest of Caribou. This route was selected by the transportation study group as the preferred route, as it minimized effects on existing businesses near downtown and minimized effects to agricultural operations. The Federal Highway Administration also approved this route as the environmentally preferred route for the bypass.
Soderberg Construction of Caribou is the contractor for the first segment of this project. Preliminary construction on this 1-mile segment of the connector will begin later this fall. Construction will be suspended for the winter, then resume in the spring. Construction on this segment is expected to be completed by October 2011.
The second segment, which encompasses 3.3 miles of the connector, is being advertised and a construction contractor will be selected later this fall. Construction on this segment will begin in the spring, and the entire length of the 4.3-mile Caribou Connector is expected to be completed and open to traffic in the fall of 2012.
The two segments within the Caribou Connector are estimated to cost $20 million.
For more information on the Caribou Connector, visit http://www.maine.gov/mdot/ccdb/index.htm.