Paving continues on Exchange Street Friday afternoon in downtown Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Bangor drivers will see the return of construction crews and paving machines to the same downtown streets where they’ve had to navigate through lane closures and dodge bumpy surfaces throughout the 2018 construction season.

The orange cones that have been present throughout downtown for months will be stowed away by mid-December as crews finish their work and clean up, according to City Engineer John Theriault.

But the paving crews will be back come May 2019. That’s when the city’s contractors are expected to put down the final layer of pavement to complete the downtown sewer and stormwater replacement project that got its start early in 2018.

The project was set to be completed by Nov. 30, but an unusually cold November slowed paving work down, because crews cannot pave properly when temperatures fall below 40 degrees.

[Bangor, Augusta, Millinocket on pace to have coldest Novembers on record]

“It made getting the pavement in more challenging,” Theriault said. “We probably would’ve had the final wearing course down if the weather was better, but it wasn’t.”

Theriault said two weeks ago that he was “cautiously optimistic” about meeting the Nov. 30 deadline, but after snow and freezing temperatures persisted for much of the month, crews put down a shim layer of pavement to level out the vertical ridges of the milled streets. The shim evens out the streets and prevents major damage to the roads until crews add the final weathering course of pavement next year.

Crews covered State, York and Park streets with shim pavement layer on Friday, the day the city set as the completion date, Theriault said.

[Snowstorm delays downtown Bangor paving, but city still hopes to finish this month]

The city undertook replacement of the decades-old water, storm water and sewer systems earlier this year, which since April resulted in months of traffic disruptions, and uneven roads and sidewalks for drivers and pedestrians.

The contractors completed the replacement of all the old pipes in mid-October. Since then, they been putting in curbs and sidewalks and paving some streets.

Part of the project included introducing heated sidewalks on Exchange Street. The sidewalks have pipes running underneath them, which business owners can choose to connect to their heating systems.

[Few more weeks of bumpy streets and orange cones in downtown Bangor]

Aside from finishing touches such as brickwork, those sidewalks on Exchange Street are done, Theriault said. It is too early to tell if businesses and building owners will hook their heating systems up to enable heated sidewalks, he said, but if they do, the city may roll out more heated sidewalks on other streets.

“I’m just happy that we were able to get [the roads] ready for winter,” Theriault said. “The vast majority of work is done.”

Just outside of downtown, crews have also been at work on Hammond and Union streets since September as part of a water main replacement project by the Bangor Water District.

Both streets will have binder, or the dark base layer of pavement, through the winter. Crews will put down the final weathering course layer when they do curb work on both streets in spring, according to Bangor Water District Engineer Amanda Soucier.