SKOWHEGAN — Patience, at least for another month or two.
That’s the plea to motorists using the busy Margaret Chase Smith Bridges over the Kennebec River, where construction and heavy equipment have caused traffic delays since mid-January.
Traffic has been reduced from three travel lanes to two lanes.
Work crews from Auburn-based T-Buck Construction are replacing the Island Avenue sewer pump station, a 40-year-old unit that failed this past summer, said Brent Dickey, superintendent of the town’s water pollution control plant.
Dickey said the new pump station is expected to be in service by the middle of March.
“We repaired it and got it back in service, but it was obvious there was some residual damage and it needed to be replaced,” he said.
The pump station handles sewage from the town’s central fire station on Island Avenue, the Federated Church and adjoining buildings, along with the Dairy Treat ice cream stand, other businesses on the island, the currently vacant Solon Manufacturing building, a private home and several apartments.
The cost of the project, including the pump station, is $573,000, which is to be paid from an $11.88 million sewer bond approved in June.
The money comes in the form of a low interest loan, part of the state’s revolving loan fund. Payments on the loan will come from general taxation over the next 20 years, not from user fees.
“The old system was completely removed and some of the inlet sewers also will be replaced — it’s a different style pump station — it used to be pumps below grade, now there are submersible pumps that are built into the wet well,” Dickey said. “We’re digging over 20 feet deep to install this new system. It was all done with the excavators — no blasting.”
Work also will include moving pipes from the South Channel Bridge, south of the island near the junction with U.S. Route 2, to the North Channel Bridge, closer to downtown. That work is expected to begin in April and last about six weeks, with most of the work coming at night, leaving the travel lanes open during the day, Dickey said.