BANGOR — To ultimately enjoy less traffic congestion, drivers around Union Street will have to endure two years of more congestion.
The Maine Department of Transportation plans to replace the Union Street Bridge overpass, beginning this spring and continuing through November 2016.
The project is partly a response to the results of a Bangor I-95 corridor study from 2011. Stephen Bodge, project manager for DOT’s bridge program, said that it was time to replace the bridge overpass, which was built in 1960.
“The bridge has deteriorated to the point of needing to be replaced,” Bodge said. “The deck is in poor condition, the substructure units, including the abutments and the pier, are showing deterioration as well and are considered in fair condition. Two other factors include the need for a dedicated turning lane onto I-95 northbound and the increased clearance over the Interstate from 14.5 feet to 16.5 feet.”
“It’s work that has to be done,” said Dana Wardwell, the Bangor public works director.
Bodge explained that the new bridge, which will be constructed with hybrid composite beams and a concrete deck, will be five lanes wide with two through lanes in each direction and a dedicated left turn lane onto I-95 northbound.
The contractor for the project is CPM Constructors of Freeport, with a bid of $9,579,966.05.
“The northern half of the bridge will be removed and replaced first, then the southern half will be completed,” Bodge said. “There are a number of utilities that will be attached to the bridge during different stages of construction. The contractor will be performing some of this work, and the utilities themselves will be doing some of the work.”
The construction on the bridge, across which an average of 17,000 vehicles drive daily, will lead to a number of detours.
Bodge explained that many streets will be blocked off to Union Street for safety purposes during construction. Those affected are: Beecher Park, Sunset Avenue, Eddyway, 15th Street, 16th Street, and 17th Street. Most have an outlet away from Union Street; however, Sunset Avenue and the Bangor Housing Authority will both exit to Texas Avenue by using temporary roads built for the construction project.
Union Street traffic will shrink from four lanes to two lanes during construction (one in each direction). Also, the ramps associated with I-95 will be right turn only during construction: the northbound on- and off-ramp and the southbound off-ramp. In addition, the I-95 northbound on-ramp will be closed completely for a maximum of two weeks to improve the merge onto the Interstate.
Wardwell admits that the construction will lead to some traffic snarls.
“Anytime you reduce a four-lane major artery to two lanes for two years, it’s going to mean some headaches,” he said. “We’re working with the Department of Transportation and the contractor to make it as smooth as possible for area residents.”