LINCOLN, Maine – Traffic along the often-congested West Broadway should return to normal in about two weeks, when pavers and pipeline installers finish Phase One of a $7.5 million natural gas installation in early September, officials said Wednesday.
Nearly a mile of the 3½-mile pipe installation through Lincoln remains to be finished, with paving over the new pipelines to follow, said Doug McDougal, project manager for Sullivan and Merritt Constructors Inc.
Two pipelines are being installed. One is a steel, high-pressure line that will deliver natural gas from the pipeline connection near Interstate 95 to Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC and a natural gas substation near the paper manufacturer. The other is a 4-inch plastic line that will deliver lower-pressure gas to the businesses and residences along West Broadway, McDougal said.
“It’s actually going very well. The town has been very receptive to what we are doing,” McDougal said Wednesday.
“There is an awful lot of traffic on West Broadway,” McDougal, an Old Town resident, said. “You don’t realize how much until you see how much there is. Some people complain [about the traffic snarled by the construction], but we should have the pipeline in by the end of next week.”
Workers at S & S Transportation Inc. of Lincoln began stacking sections of 45-foot-long, 6-inch-wide pipe on Access Road in February with construction beginning in April, said Andrew Barrowman, Bangor Gas Co.’s manager of sales and marketing.
The gas will run into Lincoln from a spur off a pipeline in nearby Mattamiscontis Township that once ran jet fuel from Searsport to the Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. The line, which Bangor Gas purchased, has been charged with high-pressure natural gas from Bangor to Mattawamkeag since last year, Barrowman said.
Once the Lincoln Paper and Tissue line is operating, Bangor Gas will install a $250,000 regulatory station at the mill that will enable low-pressure gas lines to be run for residences and businesses, Barrowman said.
The gas company seeks bidders to build the station. Several businesses along West Broadway could have gas service by next spring, he added.
“So far, we are right on pace to meet the needs for the mill for heating season,” Barrowman said Wednesday.
Businesses and homes along the route would be eligible for gas service as part of Phase Two once the paper mill — the line’s anchor customer — is supplied. Those businesses employ more than 800 people. The construction of the lines, branching from West Broadway to the airport, Main and Fleming streets and part of Route 2, would cost about $2 million and would start in spring 2016, officials said.
The gas company is paying for the pipe installation but is receiving a 90 percent return on the property taxes it would pay to the state as part of a Tax Increment Financing deal it made with the town. It is Lincoln’s first 90-10 split on taxes as part of a TIF, town economic development coordinator Ruth Birtz said.
Phase Three would extend from Main Street to Enfield Road to Penobscot Valley Hospital, with extensions onto Perry, Lindsay, Ayes, Williams and Taylor streets. It would cost $1 million. Construction would run from spring 2018 to fall 2019.
Phase Four would run a portion of Route 6 down Evergreen Road, with lines extending to Lakeview, Pleasant, Libby and Morgan streets and Highland Avenue. It is expected to take 1½ years to build and cost $1 million. Phase Five covers the Taylor Street area and would cost $1 million.
Town and Lincoln Paper officials have said the pipeline system is the cornerstone to a plan that would keep the mill competitive and solidify Lincoln’s standing as a service hub and business magnet for northern Penobscot County.