A two-mile stretch of U.S. Route 1A in Hampden reopened Wednesday after it was closed for more than eight months for road construction, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.
The work included the replacement of the Grist Mill Bridge, repaving, the installation of a sidewalk, and sewer and water upgrades.
The Maine Department of Transportation closed the road on April 13 to all but local traffic between Western Avenue and Coldbrook Road. Traffic was detoured along Coldbrook Road and Western Avenue to U.S. Route 202.
To replace the bridge, the Maine DOT had to demolish the old structure, which was made up of three bridges built on top of one another. The most recent bridge dated to approximately 1950, department spokesperson Paul Merrill said earlier this year.
The project will not be completed until next year, he said.
The original plan called for work to begin after school let out in June to minimize the impact on traffic, but demolition work was able to start early because COVID-19 closed schools and dramatically reduced vehicle traffic on Maine roads, Merrill said.
A sidewalk and grassy esplanade along what was the narrow shoulder of U.S. Route 1A was installed from Mountainview Drive to Western Avenue. That allows a person to walk on a sidewalk from the Bangor-Hampden line to the center of Hampden.
The total cost of the project is $8.9 million, with Hampden voters authorizing up to $1.2 million of municipal funds to pay for it. The town is responsible for providing 10 percent of the funding for the road repairs, but paid for the sewer and water upgrades.
That is not the end of roadwork in the community.
The Hampden Bridge Bundle Project involves rebuilding eight bridges and rehabilitating a ninth bridge along a four-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in Hampden, according to Merrill. The eight bridge replacements are happening on both the northbound and southbound sides of the interstate at four sites between exits 174 and 180.
Emerson Mill Road under I-95 will be closed to traffic as needed between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. through Jan. 8 except on weekends and holidays to allow the bridge to be rebuilt.