Maine Department of Transportation Project Manager Ernie Martin and other officials will provide an update on next year’s Water Street reconstruction project during a public meeting Thursday evening in Hallowell.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium.

Martin said he finds such meetings “extremely helpful” because communication among the state, the city of Hallowell, business owners and residents is critical.

“I’m going to talk a lot about communication, including our websites and Facebook, and how folks can interact during construction,” Martin said by phone Wednesday.

The state plans to begin rebuilding an approximately 2,000-foot stretch of the busy corridor — part of U.S. Route 201 — next April. Martin has long said the hope is that the work will be completed by mid-October 2018, with surface paving finished by June 2019.

Businesses on Water Street have feared what the project will do to their revenue stream during the city’s busy summer season, and Martin said he and his state transportation colleagues have continued to explore creative ways to streamline the process and shorten the construction period.

“We’re still looking at ways to get in and get out quicker so it’s less inconvenient,” he said. “One side of the street is going to disappear, so we have to try and be creative.”

One creative proposal Martin will talk about is having parking available on the out-of-service railroad tracks between Winthrop and Central streets. He said the tracks would be covered with a fabric and gravel in hopes that employees of Water Street businesses would park there during construction.

“Maybe the city can have a lottery where they’ll assign numbered parking permits to employees,” he said.

Martin has several renderings and posters to display at Thursday’s meeting because they depict some ideas about how the construction will look. He’s going to talk about the proposed one-way detour northbound and the plan to install three large drainage pipes this fall.

The pipes will be installed in the area of the city’s boat launch, along Front Street and on Warren Street. Martin said he’s still working on the final details and on the timeline. He said there are environmental concerns and the state transportation agency doesn’t want the work to disturb the sturgeon habitat. He said he thinks installing the pipes this year will accelerate the larger project’s timeline because next year, construction will start with Water Street because the pipes already will be there.

Earlier this month, an Ogunquit business owner described his experiences during his town’s Main Street reconstruction project with members of the Hallowell Area Board of Trade. He said the town was lucky not to have any construction during its peak tourist season, and he commended the DOT’s communications with the town’s business owners and residents.

“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. He said the $13.5 million project to improve a 2.4-mile stretch of U.S. Route 1 came in under budget and finished ahead of schedule.

The Water Street project is estimated to cost nearly $3 million. Hallowell voters will go to the polls Friday to vote on a $2.36 million bond package that includes more than $600,000 for the Water Street reconstruction. The bond also includes $600,000 for the Stevens Commons redevelopment 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.

Martin said there are other upcoming projects in Wiscasset and Belgrade Village. He relies on a team to help organize and manage communications and other aspects of the work.

“Communication is so important because when you look at the corridor, you have commuters, business owners, residents, bicyclists and pedestrians, and it’s truly a regional corridor,” he said. “There are smaller shops, bars and taverns (that will need updates).”

In Ogunquit, the DOT provided bi-weekly updates looking ahead to the next steps in the project and the construction work people could expect over the coming weeks. Because so many people use Water Street, that type of communication will be even more important and helpful.

“The department has gotten a lot better with their outreach, and we try to get in touch with as many people as possible,” Martin said.

Martin said he couldn’t speak more highly of the people of Hallowell and its officials for working parallel to the state during changes in city management and elected officials, and for being flexible throughout the process and aware of the challenges this type of construction project brings.

“There’s more of an understanding about the complexity of the process,” he said. “We have a lot of meetings and do a lot of outreach so that when the first excavator hits the pavement, everybody is on the same page,” he said.

There aren’t any future meetings scheduled, but Martin said he expects to be back in Hallowell at least once or twice more before the work begins.

“We’re full steam ahead,” he said.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ