July and August 2018 now are off limits for road reconstruction through Belgrade Lakes village.

The state Department of Transportation on Thursday told Belgrade officials of that decision, altering a work schedule that had been announced at a final public hearing less than 24 hours earlier.

“Basically it was the feedback that came back,” said Ted Talbot, Maine Department of Transportation spokesman. “We want to be friendly partners with the town, all work cooperatively and all come to the same goal of a much improved village.”

On Wednesday, residents and property owners at the public hearing said they felt blindsided by a work schedule for the reconstruction of less than a half-mile of Main Street as it passes through a busy business section of the town.

They said they believed they had been assured work would stop during the summer, which is critical for tourism.

On Thursday, townspeople welcomed the news of the reversal.

“We are thrilled that they have reversed their decision and they’re honoring the promise they made to us,” said Liz Fontaine, a resident and a member of the board of Friends of Belgrade Lakes Village, which has raised more than $500,000 for enhancements to the project. “The businesses get over 50 percent of their revenue in July and August; this will allow them to stay in business.”

Michael Barrett, chairman of the Belgrade Board of Selectpersons, said Thursday, “We’re very pleased that the state recognized the potential for economic harm that could be caused by continuing construction through the months of July and August.”

Ernie Martin, project manager for the state Department of Transportation, had said Wednesday night that the schedule would be sunrise to sunset Monday through Thursday, with stoppage from 3 p.m. Friday to sunrise Monday.

He said that would allow the project to be completed in one construction season and to be cost-effective.

Objections came immediately.

“When things like this happen, oftentimes, we have the ability to pivot,” Talbot said. “This is another example where feedback directly affected the decision-making.”

Martin’s memo sent Thursday to Belgrade Town Manager Carrie Castonguay says, “The anticipated construction begin date is April 2018 and construction will stop on June 29th, 2018. Construction will start back up on September 4th, 2018.”

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

On Thursday, Martin said he needed to see what effects blocking out July and August construction would have on the schedule. He said those are prime months for contractors to work because of more daylight and more productivity.

He said he would meet with selectmen later to keep them informed about the planned construction schedule.

“The biggest challenge of Belgrade is there are no real good detours,” he said.

Route 27 is a main travel route between Farmington and Augusta.

On Wednesday night, Martin said the contractor would be required to leave an 11-foot travel lane open during reconstruction work.

The project also will leave the village with 55 clearly marked parking spaces — 29 on the east side and 26 on the west. Previously, a larger number of parking spaces had been announced; however, those numbers were for a project in a different community.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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