AUGUSTA — Crews are clearing trees, digging ditches, shifting gravel and directing traffic as part of a project designed to link routes 3 and 27 and allow Interstate 95′s exit 113 to function in all directions.
Crews from Pike Industries and other contractors are clearing the area, along Old Belgrade Road near the intersections with Middle and Bog roads and Civic Center Drive in the northwest area of the city.
The nearly $13 million cost is being funded by the federal, state and city governments as well as MaineGeneral Medical Center, which is erecting a new hospital on Old Belgrade Road adjacent to the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care.
“Right now our focus is getting all the drainage in,” Shawn Smith, project manager for the state Department of Transportation, said Monday.
Culverts and catch-basins are being installed to handle stormwater runoff, so some lanes of Old Belgrade and Bog roads are temporarily blocked and flaggers are handling traffic. Along with road construction crews, other workers are installing natural gas lines, and cable, telephone and electrical utility workers are there as well.
“We’re coordinating with all of them,” Smith said. “We have weekly progress meetings to make sure our work isn’t going to interfere with theirs.”
Closer to exit 113, more clearing is taking place in preparation for a month-long closing of the northbound ramp of the interstate. That closure is set to begin April 22, and a tentative reopening date is set for May 22. The progress of the project is weather-dependent, Smith noted.
Among the road improvements are the creation of two roundabouts that link local roads with Route 3 and the interstate.
Smith urged motorists and residents in the area to use caution around the work sites, to be alert to sign changes and to allow extra time to pass through the area. He said drivers should anticipate that detour and other signs could change from one day to the next, particularly as the project continues and paving begins.
While the northbound ramp is closed, motorists will be detoured north along West River Road, which is also Route 104, and then back onto I-95 via the Lyons Road exit 120 in Sidney.
“That’s how it’s going to be signed,” Smith said, adding that variable message signs and detour signs will be posted along the entire route.
More drainage work and some excavation are also under way at Medical Center Parkway — the entrance to the new Alfond Center for Health — and Henry’s Way.
Both that intersection as well as the one at Old Belgrade Road and Route 27 will get traffic signals.
Smith said plans call for closing a part of Old Belgrade Road later in July as large culverts are installed, but he added that motorists will have access to the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care.
Smith said the plan is to have all paving completed by Nov. 2.
“I think we’ve got a good schedule worked out,” Smith said. “It’s aggressive and we’re on a good path right now for meeting deadlines.”
The road improvements are projected to be finished by Nov. 8, a day ahead of the scheduled opening of MaineGeneral’s new regional hospital.
Betty Adams — 621-5631