WATERVILLE — A $1.4 million state project involving the upgrading of College Avenue and part of Main Street is expected to wrap up by about mid-October, according to a state official, and some motorists say they’re willing to put up with the work headaches with the promise of smoother driving down the road.

Shawn Smith, project manager for the highway program in the state Department of Transportation’s Region 2, said workers have used a milling machine to remove the top inches of pavement and will repave and fix low areas where the road may be too flat.

“It’s basically a pavement preservation project,” Smith said Tuesday.

The work is being done by All States Asphalt Inc., of Windham, and includes 2 miles of College Avenue, from Post Office Square to the Fairfield town line, and 0.35 miles of Main Street from Post Office Square to the railroad tracks near the entrance to Railroad Square.

The College Avenue project is costing $1.2 million, the Main Street project $180,000, according to Smith. Those are state roads and were improved last in 2000, he said.

Meanwhile, motorists on College Avenue said Tuesday that while the project poses an inconvenience, it means improved roads ahead.

“It’s a pain in my butt,” said Chet Hanscom, 54, a Fairfield resident who works in Waterville.

Hanscom had stopped his pickup truck near Dunkin’ Donuts to talk with two motorcyclists who had parked there.

“It’s hard getting around,” Hanscom said, recalling how he recently went to Kennebec Savings Bank on Main Street. “They had the road blocked off by R.A. Drapeau; they had it blocked by Front Street. I had to turn around and go up Oak Street and come back down to get to the bank.”

Motorcyclist David Melancon, 43, of Waterville, said driving a motorcycle on College Avenue and Main Street has become tough because of the ruts from the milling work.

“I avoid it as much as possible,” he said, adding that he knows his way around and can detour to other streets.

Pete Goodno, 58, of Waterville, said he just got a new tire on the front of his motorcycle, and driving the roads under construction is not a problem.

“I’m glad they’re fixing the roads — way overdue,” he said.

Farther north on College Avenue, at the corner of Walnut Street, Reed Bolduc, owner of R&B Electronics, said he understands the work is being done a little late in the year because contractors had to wait until after natural gas lines were installed on College Avenue. But it would have been nice to enjoy traveling on the repaved avenue during the summer, he said. They will pave the road and then be plowing it, he said, referring to the arrival of snow.

However, Bolduc conceded, the avenue will be in much better shape after the work is complete.

“Not losing half the car going down the street would be nice,” he said.

The work started Sept. 1. By Tuesday, the roads had been milled and workers were adjusting catch basins and sewer manholes.

“We’re getting everything prepped for the surface paving to start,” Smith said. “We should be putting the shim course down this week. Probably within the next couple of weeks we’ll start surface paving.”

The shim course is a layer of material that levels the underlying road base.

Police officers have been operating the traffic lights at College Avenue and Main Street manually to allow for better traffic flow during the project, according to Smith. He said traffic movement has been going well and is aided by the fact that College Avenue has four lanes and can be worked on in sections.

The city also has its own road improvement projects underway. Crews are working to improve Getchell Street, a short street that connects College Avenue and Main Street.

Drummond Avenue, a state road, also is getting a major upgrade from Armory Road to the Fairfield town line, according to the city’s public works director, Mark Turner. New drainage lines and catch basins are being installed to improve drainage and help preserve the road surface, and the road will be resurfaced, recrowned and paved.

“We’re going to rebuild all shoulders and ditching all the way to Fairfield,” Turner said.

That $700,000 project is being shared by the state DOT and the city, with each contributing half of the funding, according to Turner.

The work on Drummond Avenue started Monday and is expected to be completed by mid- to late October, he said.

A plan to upgrade Cool Street will be postponed until next year because of extensive natural gas, sewer and water line work done there, according to Turner. The city is going to wait while the trenches settle, and next spring, workers will mill the pavement, install new curbing and sidewalks and repave, he said. He said it is important to let the street settle before completing the work.

“It’s going to be a major project,” he said.

The street will be topped with a maintenance shim before winter, he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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