GARDINER — Residents can expect delays when school lets out and the state begins construction on a section of Route 126 that involves building a sidewalk for pedestrian safety.

The project will run from the Gardiner Middle School down Route 126 along the stream, about three-quarters of a mile to the New Mills Market area, where there have been long-standing drainage problems. During a storm last March, water poured over the road in that area of a cross culvert.

City officials have been after the state for years to fix the road and build a sidewalk to enhance safety for children walking to the middle school.

Ernie Martin, project manager for the Maine Department of Transportation, said the state will advertise the project in May and have it awarded to a contractor by the time school ends for the year. The project should be completed the end of August, he said.

“The addition of that sidewalk, to make it safer for pedestrians, that was the main focus of the project,” Martin said.

Martin said it will cost $1 million to rebuild the road, install a new sidewalk and improve the drainage. The $300,000 sidewalk project is paid for through the Maine Safe Routes to School program, he said.

Chuck Applebee, director of Gardiner’s wastewater and public works department, said the City Council approved an $87,000 match for the Route 126 project.

The heavily used road and primary city entrance — an estimated 7,000 cars travel the road each day now and that’s expected to increase to 8,700 cars per day in 12 years — will become a single lane with flaggers directing traffic during the project, Martin said.

Motorists should expect delays since the road is a commuter thoroughfare to get to the east side of the river, Martin said.

The project includes overlaying the road, adding sidewalks, replacing curbing, improved ditching and drainage, adding better sloping, and replacing a cross culvert that failed several times, causing part of last year’s wash out.

Residents voiced their concerns with the project at a public hearing in October. Top concerns included speeding motorists, the relocation of some mailboxes to the stream side of the road and snow-plowing issues.

City Manager Scott Morelli said the Maine Department of Transportation has been able to address those concerns in its revised plan. For example, he said mailboxes will be kept on the same side of the road as a resident’s home instead of being moved across the street.

Martin said transportation department will work closely with the city and continue to address any concerns residents have about the road construction and managing traffic.

He said public notices will be issued on when construction work will be performed.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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