FORT KENT, Maine — Drivers traveling through Fort Kent on U.S. Route 1 may want to allow some extra time in reaching their destination over the next couple of weeks as crews work to complete a mile-long repaving project begun last summer.
In what has become a familiar sight in town, crews with Northern Paving Inc. are removing about an inch and a half of asphalt on Route 1 from Station Hill to the municipal office.
Unfavorable weather conditions delayed paving of that stretch of road last summer and the project was put on hold over the winter after more than 600 tons of newly laid asphalt failed to meet Maine Department of Transportation specifications.
“They originally said they were going to start back up in early summer,” said Don Guimond, Fort Kent town manager. “But June disappeared and then July disappeared and August is about done and now they are here.”
Bad weather again delayed the start of the Fort Kent project in June, according to John Bither of the Maine DOT, and Northern Paving Inc. crews were committed to completing other paving contracts around the St. John Valley before turning their attention to Fort Kent.
“They have arrived back,” Bither said. “They are currently removing the material that did not meet the specifications last year [and] hope to have it removed by the end of the week.”
An additional week will be required to then lay down the new asphalt, Bither said.
Materials for the project are coming from Northern Paving’s facility in Van Buren, Bither said, and after extensive testing by the MDOT, the asphalt mix fully meets specifications.
Other than creating some traffic headaches around town, the delay in completing the project has not caused any major problems in Fort Kent, Guimond said.
“The biggest issue has been the lack of traffic lane markings at intersections and at the [traffic] lights,” he said. “There have been a number of close calls with people who did not know where the turning lanes are, but luckily no accidents.”
The new asphalt will greatly improve driving conditions in Fort Kent, Bither said, and he is confident in the contractor’s ability to get the job done.
“Northern Maine Paving has the best interest of Fort Kent in mind,” he said. “When this project is done it will be a good thing for the town.”
Calls to Ryan Pelletier, Northern Maine Paving project manager, were not returned.