BELGRADE — A decision to rebuild Main Street in Belgrade Lakes village all through the 2018 construction season elicited complaints and concerns from a number of residents and business owners Wednesday night.

Even the plan to halt construction at 3 p.m. most Fridays and restart work from sunrise to sunset Monday through Thursday did not alleviate concerns.

The work schedule was announced during the Department of Transportation’s final public hearing on the project.

The state plans to rebuild just under half a mile of Route 27 where it runs through the village.

Ernie Martin, project manager for the transportation department, said halting work during July and August — prime tourist season for the picturesque village — would stretch the project into two construction seasons, increasing the cost for the department, among other things. He also noted that July and August are prime months for construction.

The state has estimated the total project cost at just under $2.7 million, including preliminary engineering, right of way, construction and inspection work.

But it was the timing of the work that locals say is critical.

Martin said he anticipated the reaction. “We did away with Saturday and Sunday and half a day Friday to try to compromise and balance that,” Martin said.

He also told attendees that much of the heavy digging should be done by July 1.

Martin also promised to return to the town and/or send out letters when the plan is finalized and he has a better idea of the number of working days required.

He said work zones will be limited to 1,000 feet and that an 11-foot travel way will be maintained.

“There’s no detours here,” he said. “Once contractor is done for the day, it’s back to two lanes unless there’s an emergency.”

The road is a major travel route between Farmington and Augusta.

Selectmen Chairman Michael Barrett said he and other board members also anticipated work stoppage in July and August and were surprised by Wednesday’s announcement.

“It will kill the businesses in town,” said Jan Partridge, who owns Balloons & Things. “If you do construction then, everybody in town is going to lose a huge amount of revenue.”

Partridge would prefer that the project be abandoned. “I don’t want construction, period. As far as I am concerned, they can resurface the road and forget it.”

Liz Fontaine, of Belgrade, who owns property in the construction area, was surprised by the schedule.

“We were totally blindsided by that,” she said. “We were told from the beginning we would have all of July and August.”

Diane Oliver, who owns Day’s Store in the village and who is on the board of Friends of Belgrade Lakes, which raised over $556,000 for enhancements, such as pedestrian lighting and better sidewalks, said donors had been told the project would be halted during the summer.

“July and August to this town are really important,” said Christine Merkens, of Belgrade. “If there’s any way possible that could change, it would really be helpful.”

Carol Johnson, a Belgrade Lakes property owner and also a member of the Friends of Belgrade Lakes, said the reconstruction project has a lot of positives. “When this gets done, we’re going to have a quaint village as opposed to a runway.”

Wednesday’s presentation included information about the design, rights of way, tree law, stormwater treatment practices, and a question-and-answer period.

The project has been planned for years and raised concern among business owners about how it will affect sales. Several merchants had suggested suspending any roadwork during the height of the summer tourist season — Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends. Some business owners also voiced opposition to having roadwork done at night.

It is one of the last remaining sections of Route 27 to be worked on and has proved particularly sensitive because it is the only road along a narrow isthmus between Great and Long ponds.

Martin said the design of the project includes 83 parking spaces — 54 on the west side of the road and 29 on the east.

Crosswalk locations are designated — although some people, including Partridge, are hoping they can be changed — and the sidewalk, which runs on the east side, has been extended to the south to a new bakery near the intersection with West Road.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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