The snow and freezing air that came through Bangor on Friday have delayed by a couple days a large, ongoing project to repair the downtown infrastructure and roads.
But city engineer John Theriault is cautiously optimistic the work will still be finished by the targeted end date of Nov. 30.
Workers have already installed new water, sewer and stormwater pipes, and paved Park, French and Harlow streets, Theriault said. But they must still complete State, York and Exchange streets, which he estimated could take one more day.
“If we can get that one day of paving before the paving plants close in two weeks, we’ll do it,” Theriault said. “I’m hopeful we can do it.”
The one variable that could threaten that outcome is weather. On Friday, Theriault hoped that the falling snow would not turn out as heavy as predicted and that it would be followed by warmer air.
“The snow isn’t helping,” he said Friday. “At the start of the week, we were looking to pave everything this Saturday, but the weather put the kibosh on that. Now we’re looking to next week. We’re hoping tomorrow is a beautiful day, and the sun comes out and melts the snow.”
While the optimal temperature for paving is above 40 degrees, Theriault said it can be done in the mid-30s, although the materials would be harder to work with in that case.
Right now, the unpaved sections of road are either covered in a dark binding material that resembles asphalt or have been milled down to a rough, ridged texture.
If the city can’t finish the paving by the end of this month, it will take steps to stabilize those sections of road for winter and finish the work in spring, Theriault said. That would include placing shims around the edges of manhole covers and other obstructions — which the city also did ahead of Friday’s storm — so that snow plows won’t be affected.
At the moment, there’s also unrelated road work happening around the intersection of Hammond and Union streets, where the Bangor Water District is installing a new sewer line, Theriault said.
The work was originally set to end in the middle of October, but the scope of the project grew over time, with the contract increasing from $1.9 million to $2.6 million, according to Theriault. Among the additional work is the installation of heated sidewalks along Exchange Street, as part of a test case for city officials and business owners.
The project will also improve the sidewalks along the downtown roads. However, some finishing touches, such as brickwork and landscaping, will probably wait until spring.
Downtown denizens and businesses have generally been understanding of the disruptions from the project, given that it is contributing to the overall improvement of the neighborhood. But Theriault recognizes the interruptions have irked some people.
“The city appreciates everyone’s patience,” he said. “It’s been a hard project and a complicated project. The weather for the end of the construction season has been challenging as well. I know it’s been hard on the residents and the business owners.”