Just as the wind blows and the sun sets, winter will soon loosen its grip over Bangor.
When it does, crews in hard hats and neon vests will be back out on the roads, controlling traffic as they patch the new potholes and other damage that have come from five icy months. Beyond the normal spring maintenance, they will make plenty of other upgrades.
In the Queen City, that work will include everything from the completion of a large downtown paving project to the replacement of several traffic lights. Also, local officials are seeking bids for the first phase of a multi-year renovation of the Pickering Square parking garage and its surrounding area.
Here are a few key projects that Bangor drivers, cyclists and pedestrians can look forward to in the coming months:
Some of the most obvious work in 2019 will be the new pavement going down on the city’s roads.
At least two such projects are expected to happen over the summer. A significant one will take place on Union Street, according to City Engineer John Theriault. After the Bangor Water District completes its own project on that road, the city plans to repave about a mile of Union Street between Hammond Street and Interstate 95.
“That’s a big one that people are going to notice,” Theriault said. “That’ll impact people’s commutes.”
Theriault did not know when exactly that project will happen, as it depends on when the water district does its work.
Another project that is soon going out to bid will repave a section of Hogan Road extending almost a half-mile from Mt. Hope Avenue to just south of Interstate 95.
Both of the new paving projects will be partly funded by the Maine Department of Transportation.
This spring, the city also hopes to finish the large project that snarled downtown traffic for months last year. That work involved replacing the water, stormwater and sewer pipes around downtown Bangor last year while also repaving its roads.
The city couldn’t finish the project in 2018 partly due to unusually cold weather in November that prevented crews from laying new pavement.
In late April or early May, Theriault said, crews should be able to put down a final layer of pavement on two sections of road: State Street between the Kenduskeag Stream and Broadway, and Exchange Street between State and York streets. In addition, workers will have to finish replacing the sidewalks on those streets.
New traffic signals
Several traffic signals will also be replaced in the coming months, largely with funding from Maine DOT.
The most noticeable change may be at the intersection of Union and Main streets, where a new left turn signal will be added for people who are driving east on Union Street toward Brewer.
Because many cars often drive in the opposite direction during rush hour and there is currently no turn signal there, drivers making a left must sometimes rush to turn when the light changes from red to green, or try to make it through a yellow light, according to Theriault.
“That makes it really hard to make a left turn,” he said. “This is going to make it much easier.”
That project could go out to bid in the next couple weeks, according to Theriault.
In addition, the city also hopes that a project to replace two traffic signals along Fourteenth Street — at the intersections of Union and Ohio streets — will go forward this year after they were held over from last year.
A renovated parking garage?
The city has also just put another larger project out to bid: the first phase of a remodel of the Pickering Square parking garage and surrounding area.
The first phase of the project would move the entrance of the parking garage away from the left side of the front of the structure, where buses also gather, to the right side of the structure at the corner of Broad and Water streets. It would also re-landscape the grassy area between the garage and One Merchants Plaza.
The city originally sought bids for the some of that work late last year, but received none, Theriault said. Now, if the city receives a reasonable bid, the work could begin as early as May.
“We’re hoping to get more interest now,” Theriault said.
Finally, the people who rely on their feet, wheelchairs or bicycles to get around Bangor could get some relief in the coming year. For one thing, the city is seeking bids to renovate about three-quarters of a mile of sidewalk along Union Street from Vermont Avenue to Griffin Road — a stretch of road with a Hannaford grocery store, a number of fast-food restaurants and health care offices.
The city is also working with Maine DOT to build a multi-use trail that would make it easier for pedestrians to walk or bike to the shopping area on Stillwater Avenue from the area around Eastern Maine Community College off of Hogan Road.
The proposed trail will run almost a half-mile from the western end of Sylvan Road — which runs alongside much of EMCC’s campus — to Stillwater Avenue, winding along the southern edge of the on-ramp to Interstate 95. Right now, some people walk through a drainage pipe to get around the on-ramp, which is “not really desirable,” Theriault said.
But the timing of the project is uncertain, as the city must get easements to build and maintain the trail from four property owners who live nearby, Theriault said. The earliest construction could start is probably late in the summer, but it may have to wait until the following spring.
“We’ve had some initial meetings for the project with property owners,” Theriault said. “So far everyone is in favor.”