May 23, 2018
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Road, bridge projects will improve Midcoast transportation infrastructure

By Brian Swartz, Custom Publications Editor

From Stockton Springs to Lower Penobscot Bay, construction projects slated to take place this summer will improve an airport, bridges, and roads.

Motorists will soon encounter a major construction project in Stockton Springs, where a contractor will replace the Church Street overpass across Route 1. According to MDOT Project Manager Stephen Bodge, the existing 126-foot bridge was built in 1957.

“It’s got some pretty severe cracking and spalling of the concrete, where the concrete deteriorates to the point where it starts to fall off,” Bodge said, explaining why the MDOT will replace the bridge. “Most of that is on the substructure units, the piers and abutments.

“The deck is in poor condition as well,” he said.

The MDOT regularly inspects the bridge; with the spalling, “we don’t want to take any chances over roadways,” Bodge said, referring to concrete possibly falling onto the highway.

“That’s why we replacing it,” he said.

Project bids were opened on March 21. The apparent low bid of $1,221,997.75 was submitted by the Lane Construction Corp. of Cheshire, Conn. “It’s a good price. Our original estimates were higher than that,” Bodge said.

As for the construction timeline, “we’ve been talking about a mid-May [start] date,” he said.

The existing bridge has three spans: one apiece extending from each abutment to the nearest pier and the third extending between the piers. “We’re going to replace that with a single-span bridge” undergirded by five steel beams, Bodge said.

Currently “the two piers are on the edges of the road,” he said. The new bridge, which “will be quite a bit shorter” at 83 feet in length, “will have two abutments on the edge of the road.

“We’re going to use MSE abutments, Mechanically Stabilized Earth abutments,” Bodge said. Each abutment will be formed from compacted gravel, and “the outside of that will be faced with concrete panels,” he explained the MSE concept.

“We’re going to use gravel and [geotextile] fabric in the abutments. As the gravel stacks up, it will be compacted,” Bodge said.

The construction project will not affect Route 1 traffic “except for two times when we take down the existing bridge over the road and we place the new beams over it,” Bodge said. The project schedules “two overnight closures for a total of five nights,” with traffic being diverted onto Main Street in Stockton Springs, he indicated.

The contract calls for Church Street to reopen by Oct. 21 and for the project to be completed — including landscaping and paving — by Nov. 21. “We fully expect them [the contractor] to be ahead of that schedule,” Bodge said.

Two other Stockton Springs projects may ramp up as the overpass project winds down next fall. According to MDOT Project Manager Sean Smith, these projects involve highway safety improvements and Safe Routes to School bicycle/pedestrian improvements.

“Those two [projects] are hand in hand,” he said.

The highway safety-improvements project involves repairing or replacing catch basins and a closed drainage system along Main and Church streets. Plans originally called for the project to extend 0.67 miles from the Main Street-Route 1 intersection near Just Barb’s to the Cape Jellison Road.

Costs have since reconfigured the project so that it stops at the Stockton Springs Town Office, “which is just short of the Cape Jellison Road,” Smith said.

The Main Street drainage system has received “some minor repairs” in the past, and drains running beneath the street “are in relatively good shape,” he said. “It’s the drainage along the sides [of the street] and the catch basins that are in terrible shape. We will replace the entire drainage system on the [sidewalk] side” of Main Street.

The Safe Routes to School project involves rebuilding the sidewalk along Main Street and along Church Street as far as the Route 1 overpass project. “The old sidewalk is in various stages of disrepair,” Smith noted.

“These projects will go out to bid later this fall. We’d like to see some of the drainage work done this year prior to snowfall. Then we would finish everything up next year,” he said.

Smith is also the project manager for a road project that starts at the intersection of Routes 105-220 in Washington and extends 0.13 mile north to Old Union Road.

“There’s an old drainage system there currently,” Smith said. “It needs to be replaced. The metal is starting to show its age.”

Although the existing drainage system “is functioning … before too long it will start to cause us problems,” he said. “About eight years ago, our maintenance folks did some minor maintenance.”

“When you come into the Village of Washington by the post office, there’s a monument in the middle. We’re starting there and working back down to the [Medomak] river,” Smith said. Currently estimated to cost between $64,400 and $75,200, the project will go out to bid soon, possibly in May, and “we expect to be done this summer in its entirety,” he noted.

The MDOT has scheduled several paving projects in interior Knox and Waldo counties. “We’re working from Augusta to Jefferson [for 12.58 miles] on Route 17, and we’ve got a project from Unity to Dixmont on Route 202,” Smith said. “We’re working on a Searsmont-to-Belmont Route 3 project.”

According to Smith, the MDOT will “shim” some road stretches with “a leveling course,” while “in some areas we may grind the road up and pave another 4 or 5 inches of new mix over the existing base.

“A lot of what we do now is preventative maintenance, trying to get rid of the wheel ruts and add some structure to the highway,” he explained. “If we don’t try to pave and try to get the water off the road, it’s going to continue to deteriorate.”

Other light paving projects currently in the planning or bidding stages include:

• Route 73 in Saint George and South Thomaston;

• Route 141 in Monroe and Swanville;

• Route 173 in Lincolnville;

• Route 215 in Jefferson;

• Route 220 from Route 1 in Waldoboro to Friendship Village;

• The North Palermo Road in Palermo and Freedom;

• The River Road in Cushing;

In Rockland, the MDOT plans to build new pilings and floats and install electrical pedestals at the Rockland Public Landing, which is popular with summer boaters. The project’s estimated cost is $94,200 to $110,000.

The MDOT also plans to install new traffic lights at the intersection of Park Street (Route 1) and Broadway (Route 1A) in Rockland. The project will cost between $119,000 and $138,000.

Out on Penobscot Bay, the MDOT has scheduled a resurfacing project at the airport on Matinicus Island. The project’s estimated cost range is between $163,300 and $190,000.

And on North Haven, the MDOT plans to replace a bridge that crosses Pulpit Harbor Cove on North Haven. The bridge provides a key connection between the North Shore Road and the Middle Road.

This project has been estimated to cost about $500,000.

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