AUGUSTA — Townsend Road will be closed Monday morning between Civic Center Drive and the back entrance to the Marketplace at Augusta as part of a larger road and stormwater system construction project.
The short but heavily traveled section of road is expected to be closed from 7 a.m. to noon Monday to allow a crew to grind about 2 inches of the old worn pavement off and remove it. Eventually, later in the project, the section will be repaved. In the meantime, after the closure, it will be reopened to traffic, which will drive on the grooved lower surface.
“We’re milling the pavement on the hill and, in order to do that safely with the amount of traffic we expect there, we thought closure was the best way to get that done,” said Lionel Cayer, city engineer.
The upper, residential section of Townsend Road will remain open Monday. Drivers also will be able to enter the Marketplace from Townsend Road but won’t be able to exit the Marketplace onto Townsend to go left or right.
The main entrance to the Marketplace, on Civic Center Drive, will remain open and internal roads at the shopping complex allow access to and from all stores, despite the closure of the section of Townsend Road.
Cayer said message boards will warn drivers of the closure, and cones will block the turning lane coming off Civic Center Drive onto Townsend. Also, a police officer will be at the intersection of Townsend Road and Civic Center Drive to run the traffic signal to help keep traffic moving through the intersection.
City Manager William Bridgeo said he asked the city staff to see if the project could be done at night, but there was no night work requirement in the contract for the job, and the contractor, All States Asphalt, of Windham, wasn’t set up to pave the section at night.
“That’d be my preference, and I’d authorize that on an emergency basis,” Bridgeo said of having the work done at night. “But I’m not sure the contractor is geared up to do that.”
As a result, the work will take place from 7 a.m. to noon.
Cayer said additional road closures for the project aren’t expected, other than temporary, one-lane closures open to alternating traffic.
The work is part of a larger, approximately $1.2 million project that includes repaving the rest of Townsend Road, as well as Northern Avenue; sidewalk improvements on Northern Avenue; and stormwater pipe replacement. The repaving on Northern Avenue, which becomes West River Road, will take place between Mill Park and Route 3.
The city is overseeing construction of the project, but the Greater Augusta Utility District, which is independent of the city, is also involved and paying for a portion of the work. The utility district’s involvement includes rerouting a 36-inch stormwater pipe that runs underground across multiple pieces of private property along Northern Avenue and under a commercial building occupied by Servepro, which for many years was home to Bilodeau Motors, at 7 Townsend Road.
The roads being repaved are state roads, but they weren’t in the state’s repaving plan in the foreseeable future. The state, through its Municipal Partnership Initiative, is providing some funding for the project, leaving the city to pick up about 50 percent of the cost.
“If the city had waited many years, the state would have done this work, but the condition was such that we couldn’t wait,” Cayer said.
Alternate routes to avoid the construction project area include Mount Vernon Avenue and Interstate 95.
The project was timed so that a two-year, $4.3 million reconstruction of Mount Vernon Avenue, which wrapped up last summer, was complete before the new, nearby work begins, to avoid having too many traffic disruptions at the same time.
The paving part of the project will require numerous utility district sewer and catch basin covers to be lowered to allow the roadway to be ground down, then raised back up once the new pavement is in place.
Sidewalks on Northern Avenue also will be modified to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Raised cast iron plates will be added to sidewalks in locations where they come up to the road, to help pedestrians who are blind detect the road.
The project is expected to be complete by June 30.
Keith Edwards — 621-5647