GARDINER — By Friday, the road closure at Capen Road is expected to end and residents in this rural section of Gardiner will be able to come and go as they please.

A construction project, replacing the bridge that crosses Rolling Dam Brook, has been in the works for about five years. Although it’s not tied to the road construction projects approved in Gardiner’s current municipal budget, it’s one of several road projects that are getting started in this city before the road construction season ends in October.

When elected officials approved the city’s annual spending plan in late June, they agreed to fund a series of projects including providing matching funds for a downtown paving project, paying for the services of a stormwater engineer to calculate the cost of addressing problem areas in the city’s older neighborhoods, and paying for the start of a comprehensive, citywide paving project that gives priority to Gardiner’s worst roads. The move more than doubled the capital budget — the bulk of it in one-time spending — for the Public Works Department for the year.

Tony LaPlante, director of Gardiner’s Public Works Department, said money had been in place for the Capen Road project for three years. Capen Road connects Marston Road with Route 24 just north of South Gardiner.

“We had a replacement designed and ready to go in January 2013,” LaPlante said.

When city officials had been notified by the state Department of Transportation the bridge had been deemed in need of replacement, they secured money and were ready to move ahead. Because the structure was less than 20 feet long, it was the city’s responsibility, he said. However, the project required regulatory review by both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department because the brook is close to the Kennebec River.


The project was limited further by restrictions on when construction can be done in stream beds. LaPlante said the work season runs from July 15 to Oct. 1, and the drought has worked to their advantage because there’s little water in the brook now.

“Technically, it was a culvert,” he said. But when the $209,000 project is complete, the bridge will be an arch over the brook, built by McGee Construction.

Even as this project is being completed, LaPlante said, his department is moving forward with other projects.

“There are three or four streets in South Gardiner where we’re getting the sewer structures up to snuff, and now we’re on the Costello Road replacing culverts in preparation for pavement,” he said. “We’re trying to get as much of that done as we can.”

Several years ago, Gardiner’s Sidewalk Committee developed a plan and some engineering work was completed. LaPlante said he and City Manager Scott Morelli are working to revive the committee to review and update the plan so that work on the city’s sidewalks can start early next year.

The department also is starting work on stormwater projects around the city’s downtown. In addition to the $75,000 budgeted for that work, LaPlante said, the city has secured an additional $30,000 in grant funds. Work on the project now is getting underway.


“We have to eliminate the unknowns,” he said. “When we get the big, heavy rains, it shows us where are weaknesses are, and we’re focusing on that.”

Among the known problem areas are High Holborn and Central streets, Lincoln and Dresden avenues, Spring Street and the top of Highland Avenue.

“Some of this has been done, and some has not. We’re focusing on what’s not been done,” he said.

Some of the stormwater structures date back a century or more, and the city has grown since they were put in, so it’s possible that stormwater may run under where people have built garages or accessory buildings.

While the road closure at Capen Road is expected to end Friday, LaPlante said work will continue. That stretch of the road will still need to be paved, and that’s scheduled to take place in the next couple of weeks.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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