BANGOR, Maine — Construction on some of the city’s busiest roadways kicked off last week, providing a preview for what is likely to be a summer-long headache for drivers.
Traffic along Broadway during rush hour usually backs up, but since a backhoe was parked in the middle of the road, it’s been stacking almost to the Interstate 95 overpass — and on Hammond Street it ran a half-dozen cars deep around three parked backhoes on Monday.
Crews manning the three backhoes have begun cutting into the pavement near Epic Sports between the U.S. Post Office and Giacomo’s deli, as part of a project replacing several water mains. Utilities, including communications conduits, will go underground on Hammond.
The Broadway work — which involves the replacing of some sewer lines and the installation of a new manhole cover — is a small job, and prelude to a much bigger project: the repaving of Broadway from Center Street to Husson Avenue
“These are going to be fairly big jobs,” City Engineer John Theriault said Friday.
Broadway is easily Bangor’s most traveled route, with five lanes that see more than 25,000 vehicles a day, Theriault said. Traffic statistics on the Hammond-Central Street intersection weren’t available on Monday, but state reports place average daily traffic on Hammond in the range of several thousand cars.
Both jobs are expected to wrap up in September. Most of the work will be done from dusk to dawn to limit traffic congestion, Theriault said. In the meantime, Theriault recommended that drivers find alternative routes around those areas or to be patient when driving through them.
At least one motorist found the construction delays frustrating. Amanda Day of Bangor turned left onto Hammond from the U.S. Post Office on Friday when she began hearing a constant dull scraping sound coming from beneath her new 2016 Nissan Versa.
The object dragging beneath the car turned out to be an orange traffic cone. Day, 30, said she hit the cone because she was watching traffic flow on the Hammond Street hill and had to squeeze between parked construction machinery on the narrow southbound lane.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Day said, after she’d pulled over and removed the battered rubber cone from beneath her car. “This makes it hard to get to work on-time and safely, for me and everyone else, too, including pedestrians.”
Day uses Hammond Street several times a week to get to clients. She said she hopes she can find a good alternative route that doesn’t consume too much time.
“This,” Day said, “could be a very long summer.”