AUGUSTA — A patchwork of pavement passed over by some thousands of vehicles a day on Western Avenue is due for a major reconstruction starting next October and probably not wrapping up until the spring of 2014.

State Department of Transportation officials plan a public meeting Monday to discuss proposed improvements to the short but heavily traveled section of Western Avenue, roughly from Prescott Road to Edison Drive. The public meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the lecture hall at Augusta City Center.

About 23,000 vehicles a day travel that stretch of road, according to a 2010 state Department of Transportation traffic count.

Though slightly more than a half-mile in length, the rough stretch of broken pavement has drawn the ire of residents of the surrounding neighborhood, who unsuccessfully tried last year to get the city to put down a coat of pavement on the worst part of the section to smooth the bumps until it could be rebuilt. Residents and officials expressed concern that state transportation funding for the project could get pulled, causing the project to be delayed even further.

Smith Street resident Ron Lovaglio said the pavement on part of the project area is 30 to 40 years old. He said the section was part of two previous reconstruction proposals, but the work never got done.

City Councilor Michael Byron, whose ward includes the project area, said neighbors worry thatthe project might not get done this time, either; but he said the final public meeting on the proposal being scheduled should be a good sign the project really will take place.

“The neighbors on Smith Street were concerned because some of these biennial MDOT projects have been raided in the past for other projects that came out of nowhere,” Byron said. “Hopefully we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now.”

Ted Talbot, DOT spokesman, said the project is scheduled to go out to bid in July 2013, start construction in October 2013 and be done in the spring of 2014.

Residents have described the section of pavement, especially near Smith Street, as bone-jarring, and hard on their vehicles.

Byron noted that it’s a major gateway into the city, leaving an impression on commuters and other travelers.

“You’ve really got to slow down for it. It’s like going over a washboard,” Byron said. “For those coming into the city, it sure doesn’t leave a very good impression.”

Talbot said the purpose of the meeting on Monday is to inform people about timing of the project, traffic effects, schedules, and other issues and listen to people’s concerns and wishes about the project.

Talbot said “there is a good chance” the construction work will take place at night, but that had not been decided.

DOT officials said the $3.5 million construction project will include a complete rebuilding of the road surface, drainage work, and some widening.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

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