GARDINER — Two bridges in Gardiner are slated for reconstruction next year, and work is already underway to figure out how the project will affect residents, commuters and businesses in the area.

It’s not a small job.

The bridges, which cross the Cobbosseecontee Stream at Bridge Street and Maine Avenue, are expected to be replaced in sequence.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said the plan now is to advertise the contract for both bridges together in 2018 with construction to start on the Maine Avenue Bridge in 2018 and construction to start on the Bridge Street Bridge in 2019.

“We’re pretty confident in the time frame,” Talbot said Monday.

As part of the process, the Department of Transportation is expected to hold an informational public meeting in March, during which information about the bridge construction projects will be presented and residents and interested people will be able to give their input. That will be followed by a formal public meeting a couple of months later, which is expected to deal with the public’s feedback from the earlier meeting.


Since last March, Gardiner’s Bridge Advisory Committee has been meeting regularly about the projects and their impact on Gardiner.

“We’re getting less theoretical and talking about more specifics,” Mayor Thom Harnett, who is a member of the committee, said.

At last week’s meeting, the focus was on traffic and maintaining traffic flows through downtown Gardiner and the region during construction. The Department of Transportation has conducted some analyses of traffic in Gardiner to arrive at suggested detour routes.

Two other projects may complicate the traffic picture.

In Gardiner, the former T.W. Dick properties on Summer Street are slated for redevelopment, and some of that work may take place during that time.

The Department of Transportation has also scheduled the reconstruction of Water Street in Hallowell for 2018 with an expected April start date, but that’s expected to be finished before the bridge projects start.


Among the concerns that members of the committee have are meeting the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. District 2 City Councilor Pat Hart said a number of people walk to work in Gardiner, and there are people who live in the Highland Avenue neighborhood just west of Bridge Street, who walk to Hannaford’s grocery store or downtown, often with strollers, who would be affected by the closure of Bridge Street during construction.

Committee members are also concerned about the informal detour routes that city residents might take to avoid construction projects that will put pressure on neighborhood streets that are not intended to handle heavy traffic.

Department of Transportation officials said a public information campaign will keep people updated on road closures and changes. Meg Lane, who works in public outreach, said the department uses both traditional and social media in addition to signs to keep people informed.

Among the chief concerns is that drivers will avoid Gardiner, and that will affect businesses that rely on them.

“We can only do so much,” committee member Rusty Greenleaf said. “We’ve looked at some great options, but we can’t fix it all. The first couple of days (of the detours) will be nightmare, and then people will find a way around.”

While the project is starting to take shape, Tim Merritt of Stantec Consulting Services said at the meeting that more input is needed. A survey was sent out to about 90 downtown businesses seeking information, but only about a dozen have been returned.


“This is the business owners’ opportunity to let us know what they think,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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