Major road projects along Bangor’s Main Street should wrap up before snow flies

Posted Aug. 20, 2014, at 5:26 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 20, 2014, at 5:52 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Road work on Main Street in Bangor appears to be winding down, but drivers and pedestrians in the city should brace themselves for more orange cones before the summer is over.

Replacement of about 3,500 feet of water mains along Main Street from Railroad Street to Dutton Street wrapped up late last week, on time and on budget, according to Bangor Water District engineer Rick Pershken. Lanes were closed and shifted on that stretch of road all summer because of the work.

In a separate project, crews are working to separate sewer lines on Main Street near Railroad Street, which is running a few weeks behind schedule, according to Bangor Public Works Director Dana Wardwell.

The sewer project requires digging up a portion of the Bangor Waterfront, where the American Folk Festival will be hosted this weekend. The construction will halt and heavy equipment will be hauled away to clear the site for the event, Wardwell said. The excavation has exposed dirt along Railroad Street, and city officials are discussing whether to lay down sod temporarily — a decision that could hinge on rain being in the forecast.

Wardwell said this is “as busy a summer [he’s] seen” in terms of roadwork.

Now that the Main Street water mains are in, crews are preparing to launch Phase 2 — a redesign aimed at improving pedestrian safety. The road sees heavy traffic, on wheel and on foot, whenever an event is held at one of Bangor’s entertainment venues.

That will mean widening and rebuilding sidewalks, installing new lighting and a crosswalk with flash warning signals to halt traffic when someone wants to cross. It also will bring a series of short median strips, totaling about 1,100 feet, to separate four lanes of traffic and give pedestrians a place to “take shelter” while crossing the busy road. Medians also tend to slow down the flow of traffic on roads like Main Street, where many vehicles exceed the speed limit.

The city’s finance committee Monday recommended the city accept a $1.1 million contracting bid from Hampden-based Maine Earth for Phase 2. The council still needs to vote on that offer next week. The project is 80 percent funded by the federal government, and the remaining 20 percent is funded through local downtown tax increment financing money.

Wardwell said he expects crews to return to Main Street after Labor Day to start Phase 2, which will be completed before snow flies, he said. Milling and repaving of Main Street will wait until next spring, as will most planting of trees and flowers, he added.

Meanwhile, work continues in West Market Square at the heart of downtown Bangor. The square has been dug up for most of the summer, while workers replace sewer and water lines, some dating to the Civil War.

The majority of the underground work has been finished. After Labor Day, people can expect to see hot top laid down and sidewalks rebuilt. Then crews will start laying bricks, putting in new lights, foliage and benches. The renovated West Market Square should reopen by mid- or late September, Wardwell said.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter @nmccrea213.