Waterville, Maine, Starting $11.2M Downtown Realization Project

Thu March 04, 2021 - Northeast Edition
Waterville Morning Sentinel

A long-anticipated $11.27 million project in Waterville, Maine, to change the traffic pattern on Main and Front streets and improve sidewalks and intersections is planned to start March 15.

The work will kick off with the removal of islands at the intersection of Bridge, Water, Main and Front streets.

The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) issued a notice Feb. 26 to businesses and business owners in the immediate downtown area with information about the BUILD Grant project, including a schedule of the contractor's plan for work in 2021 and 2022.

Crooker Construction Inc., of Topsham, Maine, is the project's builder. It plans to have the work completed in 2022.

As part of the project, roads will be reconstructed, intersections improved and realigned, and existing roadway drainage improved. Main Street will be landscaped with trees, new granite curbs, lights, concrete and brick paver sidewalks and crosswalks.

The removal of the islands will allow traffic to maneuver through streets as the approaches to the intersections are reconfigured, according to the notice MaineDOT issued.

"All traffic routes will be maintained, and no detours or closures are planned at this time," according to the state agency. "Some of this work will occur at night so as not to disrupt through traffic to and from Winslow. Temporary traffic signals will be placed in the intersections to allow removal of the old signals while the approaches get reconfigured."

In May and June, work will commence on Main Street, between Bridge and Temple streets, and some improvements will be made along Front Street. Traffic will always remain open to at least one lane and access to businesses will be maintained.

The comprehensive project is being launched to address longtime traffic, parking and pedestrian safety concerns throughout the downtown, according to officials. The MaineDOT, Colby College and downtown Watertown businesses and building owners are partnering on the project, primarily funded by a $7.3 million BUILD Grant the city received from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Throughout the remainder of 2021, work will be completed on Main Street with workers doing one side of the street at a time from Bridge Street to Temple Street. Work on Main Street, between Temple Street and College Avenue, is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022. The realignment of Front Street and College Avenue will soon follow and by the fall of 2022, the final two-way traffic flow will be in place.

Construction operations will require limited vehicle traffic to and from the downtown area. During the work, steps will be taken to minimize traffic conflicts and provide access to properties abutting the project.

The downtown Watertown BUILD project is taking place while Colby College is amid developing the $6.5 million Arts Collaborative, also on Main Street. This spring, the college and Waterville Creates! plan to break ground on the approximately $20 million Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street. Nearby, the school built the $26 million Lockwood Hotel and restaurant and the $25.5 million Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, both on Main Street, as well as bought and renovated the former Waterville Savings Bank building at the corner of Appleton and Main streets for $5 million.

While driveway and business access will be kept clear throughout the new construction, there may be periods of time when a side street, driveway or business access is temporarily blocked by construction operations. Before any such closures occur, Crooker Construction will issue a notice on the city's website, www.waterville-me.gov.

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