[media-credit name=”Brian Swartz” align=”alignnone” width=”321″][/media-credit]

Orange warning signs that frequently appeared along Main Road North in Hampden in November and December were placed there by Maine Department of Transportation surveyors.

HAMPDEN — Those two surveyors seen working alongside Main Road North in November and December presage future road construction from Mountain View Drive south to the Upper Corner.

“Right now, we have a [surveying] project from where the Irving (Circle K) station is at the light” at the Routes 1A-9 intersection, said Paul MacDonald, a Maine Department of Transportation project manager. “This project will go from there north to Mountain View.”

According to MacDonald, two MDOT surveyors spent some weeks surveying Main Road North (Route 1A) for a pending future construction project. Except for routine maintenance, the road has not been rebuilt since the 1930s; before the MDOT can rebuildthe road, “we need to know exactly where everything is,” MacDonald said.

“We’re just in the beginning stages of design” in relation to rebuilding Main Road North between Mountain View Drive and the Upper Corner, he explained. The MDOT surveyors surveyed “all the existing conditions there” while “doing what we call a ‘topo,’” a survey that includes distances and elevations and every object within the MDOT’s right of way.

The surveyors measured “things like the road width, identified where all the houses are, where all the telephone poles are, where all the trees are, stone walls, fire hydrants, everything that can affect road design,” MacDonald said. The surveyors also located property lines and existing iron pins, which were marked with orange tape.

The surveyors set a station mark every 100 feet along Main Road North and “put out what they call ‘benches’ that give them elevations in relation to sea level,” MacDonald said. Then the surveyors determined the “elevations on all the contours so we will know what’s there.”

The survey would have been highly detailed anyway, according to MacDonald, but the surveyors faced an additional challenge: the MDOT’s right of way along Main Road North is not uniformly wide.

“The right of way can vary; the state may not own as much a width as people think,” he said. “Some roads were laid out back in the 1800s. They couldn’t lay out a good curve, so they laid it out in straight angles.

“A lot of these roads were county lay outs or town lay outs,” MacDonald said. “The towns or counties turned them over to the state later on, and the existing rights of way came with them.

“You can go up a road 300 or 400 feet and have it change,” he said. “It could have jogged around a building that’s been there a long time.”

Using the survey’s detailed information, “our mappers will put the existing right of way on that and then create a topographical map,” MacDonald said. “One thing we need to know is, when we rebuild this road, will we have to acquire some right of way?”

He could not predict when the MDOT will reconstruct Main Road North between the Upper Corner and Mountain View Drive. MacDonald did notethat “we have no plans to replace the bridge” that carries the road across the Souadabscook Stream.

Meanwhile, construction will start this year on 0.6 miles of Main Road North running from Mountain View Drive north to the Sterns Mill Road, located near R & K Variety. That project was requested a while ago by the Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System, which represents several lower Penobscot Valley municipalities.

“The BACTS committee said, ‘Route 1A is a vital link coming up from the Midcoast to Bangor. This is a good place to have a project,’” MacDonald said.

“It’s what we call a full construction job. We will remove the concrete core of the road, rebase it, then pave it, do the shoulders, then add a sidewalk. We will upgrade the drainage that’s there,” he said. Guard rails will be installed where needed.

Perhaps the project’s greatest challenge lies in replacing a drainage culvert at the foot of the hill next to R & K Variety. “There’s a big pipe down there that we’re going to replace,” MacDonald said. “It’s down there about 25 feet [deep] on one end.

The Main Road North alignment will not change, and the shoulders will not be built 10 feet wide, as often occurs on major reconstruction projects. The Town of Hampden will pay for a sidewalk to be built “on the non-river side” of the road, MacDonald indicated, and the road project itself will be financed 80 percent with federal highway funds and 20 percent with state highway funds. The road will be built to handle 100,000-pound trucks.

According to MacDonald, the MDOT has already “held public hearings” about this project. “It’s been designed. We will advertise the project [for bidding]” by late winter or early spring, and “the road will be under construction in the summer of 2012,” he said.

The Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System also “asked us to rebuild 1.1 miles of Stillwater Avenue starting at the College Avenue-Stillwater Avenue intersection and going toward Old Town from there,” MacDonald reported. “The committee told us, ‘That is an important corridor to us.’

“Tentatively right now we would like to start some construction up there in 2012,” he said. “We’re looking at rebuilding the first 0.3 miles.”

Local utilities — including natural gas, sewer, and water — “want to upgrade their systems. They would like to incorporate their projects in the contract with the DOT. They must meet our requirements,” MacDonald said.