HALLOWELL — The Ogunquit business owner who experienced the reconstruction of his town’s main street told Hallowell business owners this week that the short-term disruption was well worth the long-term effect.

The Hallowell Area Board of Trade has moved into its next phase of preparation for next year’s Water Street reconstruction project, which will cause traffic delays and general disruption for many months, including the summer.

Around 30 people attended a Board of Trade meeting Thursday designed to help inform them of some of the things Ogunquit dealt with during its reconstruction, which lasted two years and was completed in December.

“The end result was worth the little bit of aggravation we had for two years,” said Kirk Lavoie, who owns the Ogunquit Inn bed-and-breakfast and sits on the board of the town’s chamber of commerce.

Lavoie spent nearly 30 minutes talking about the $13.5 million Maine Department of Transportation project — which started in March 2015 — to improve a 2.4-mile stretch of U.S. Route 1, the town’s major thoroughfare.

The project came in under budget and finished ahead of schedule, Lavoie said, in part because work was done around the clock from 7 p.m. Sunday until 7 p.m. Friday. The work included construction of two new bridges with sidewalks; two miles of complete road reconstruction; 6.5 miles of drainage work; 2.6 miles of brick and paved sidewalks; and a new downtown streetscape, with streetlights and brick paving.


There was no construction during the town’s peak tourist season, from June 15 until the Tuesday after Labor Day.

“We were lucky to have no construction during our busy season,” Lavoie said.

Maine Department of Transportation project manager Ernie Martin has long told Hallowell business owners and city officials that the Water Street project would begin in mid-April 2018 with hopes to have it completed by mid-October. Construction would take place from sunrise to sunset Monday through Friday, and Martin said the bulk of activity during the 155 working days would take place on Water Street.

The time frame is not 100 percent set in stone, however, and several Hallowell business owners were visibly intrigued about what around-the-clock work would mean for the Water Street project’s timeline. Martin and other DOT officials plan to host an informational meeting April 27, and Highway Committee chairwoman Lisa Harvey-McPherson said that would be the time to ask such questions.

Lavoie, who acted as a liaison linking Ogunquit chamber members, DOT officials, the town and the construction company, said emails were sent each week to keep everyone informed about the project’s progress, the plan for the coming weeks and details about the work being done at that time.

“The advanced communication calmed a lot of people,” Lavoie said. He also noted the three-year run-up to the project gave business owners and residents ample opportunity to prepare for any potential disruptions the worked could have caused.


DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said Friday that Hallowell can expect some level of communication throughout the construction period.

“We customize those types of things to each individual project,” Talbot said. “We have many tools, and we work closely with the towns for they want to receive for information, the frequency and the tools we could use.”

Detailed communication like what Lavoie described would be welcome, City Manager Nate Rudy said.

“His comments were just excellent,” Rudy said. “There were some things I hadn’t thought about that he brought forward.”

Chris Vallee, Board of Trade president and co-owner of the Quarry Tap Room on Water Street, said he is planning many different activities and is brainstorming ideas continually about how to get people to remember that downtown Hallowell still will be open while Water Street is being rebuilt.

The Board of Trade has distributed a 19-question survey to business owners to identify potential for growth and expansion, and the group is co-hosting a meeting with the Arts & Cultural Committee on May 25 to “brainstorm ways to welcome next year’s roadwork project Hallowell-style.”


In other business, Mayor Mark Walker talked about the approximately $9 million in public infrastructure improvements, including the Water Street project, the proposed $2.36 bond package and the $1 million anonymous pledge to build a fire station at Stevens Commons.

Walker went into greater detail about why a “yes” vote on the bond is the right one for Hallowell. “It has a component for everybody,” he said.

The bond includes $600,000 for the Stevens Commons redevelopment project, $585,000 for next year’s Water Street project, $535,000 for road maintenance in rural Hallowell, $300,000 for Central Street parking improvements and $220,000 for the city’s wooden fire tower. Voters will go to the polls April 28.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663


Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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