ELLSWORTH, Maine — It’s all over now, except for the lighting.
The Triangle reconstruction project, which rerouted traffic on Routes 1 and 3 near the city’s busy Triangle intersection and the planned retail development on Myrick Street, has been completed, according to City Manager Michelle Beal.
But the traffic lights at all the affected intersections are still temporary fixtures, Beal said Monday.
“The new mast arms still have to be installed on Myrick Street, Route 1 and Route 3,” Beal said. “That work is being done by a subcontractor. Why that’s not done yet, I don’t know.”
The lighting is a key feature in the project. Once the permanent lights are installed, the signals along that area will be synchronized, Beal said.
“This has been a good project and it looks really great,” Beal said. “Once the lights are installed, the traffic will flow very smoothly.”
At this point, Beal said, she does not have a date for the completion of the lighting portion of the project.
The main component of the project was on Route 3 south-bound, heading toward Trenton and Mount Desert Island. That road was changed to one-way between McDonald’s restaurant and Myrick Street, providing two travel lanes heading up the hill.
Northbound traffic on Route 3 from the island now must turn right onto Myrick Street, which has been reconfigured to handle the additional traffic. That work also has created two left-turn lanes at the intersection of Myrick Street and Route 1 to allow two lanes of traffic to turn left onto Route 1.
When the construction began on Route 3 a month ago, there was some confusion among motorists traveling from the south attempting to continue traveling down the hill on what had been Route 3. According to Beal, some drivers continue to try to head down the hill.
“There are signs everywhere,” she said. “We’ve put up 88 signs up there. The roads are striped with arrows directing drivers and there are ‘Do Not Enter’ signs. If they’re still doing it, they’re either doing it on purpose or they’re not paying attention. There’s no reason for it now.”
The project was designed to accommodate planned and anticipated retail development in the area, starting with the Acadia Crossing development which includes a total of 500,000 square feet of retail space. During the construction, Acadia Crossing developers also coordinated necessary roadwork with the city project.
The city borrowed $2 million for the project and the Maine Department of Transportation paid $575,000 for a portion of the project. Changes ordered during the construction added to the costs, which now total about $2.8 million, Beal said.
Under an infrastructure financing plan, the city adopted a fee charged to developers in the designated area that will be used to pay back the $2 million in bonds. According to Beal, developers so far have paid back $620,000 of the construction costs through their development fees. Those fees have been paid by new developments, such as Lowe’s, which opened earlier this year, the planned Wal-Mart Supercenter and the new KFC-Taco Bell, as well as expansions of existing businesses within the Triangle development area.
More development is expected for the area and, if all goes as planned, more new businesses will be helping to pay down the construction project debt. In addition to the Wal-Mart Supercenter and the 26 stores planned for Acadia Crossing, several parcels near Linnehan’s auto dealership on Route 1 are reportedly under purchase and sale agreements, and an 86-room Hampton Inn is planned at the former DOT lot at the Triangle.