The Maine Department of Transportation will host its final meeting Wednesday in Hallowell before a downtown Water Street reconstruction project is put out to bid later this month.

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

Project Manager Ernie Martin said the department hosts these meetings in an open-house setting for bigger projects because it’s the last opportunity to get information about the project’s design before advertising the work to contractors.

“It’s just another line of communication, and we’ve tried to get the word out there,” Martin said. “It’s another way to reach out and (inform) as many people as possible.”

Beginning in April, the transportation department will rebuild a 2,000-foot stretch of the busy corridor — part of U.S. Route 201 — starting 0.1 miles north of Winthrop Street and extending 0.42 miles south to the city’s boat launch. The project, which is expected to cost nearly $5 million, should be completed by October, Martin said.

Contractors will work Monday through Thursday from sunrise to sunset and from sunrise to 3 p.m. Friday. Martin said there may be five 24-hour work periods at the intersections of Temple and Water streets and Winthrop and Water streets, but that won’t be determined until the project is underway.

The project will reduce the crown in the road, something the city had been hoping would happen for decades. Last year Hallowell voters approved a $2.36 million bond package that included $600,000 toward the Water Street reconstruction.

The plan hasn’t changed much since it was announced more than two years ago, which Martin called “remarkable.” The plan calls for work on the east side of Water Street to start April 9 and last about 12 weeks; work on the west side of the street is set for July 16 to Sept. 14. He said contractors will work on side streets in between working on Water Street, and there will be no work or detour during Old Hallowell Day on July 21.

The detour during the reconstruction will re-route drivers onto Second Street and past the city’s current fire station. Hallowell broke ground on a new station in September that should be completed before the reconstruction project begins.

Martin said the transportation department has discussed offering a construction incentive to the winning contractor, but a decision still hasn’t been made. The department offers money, sometimes $10,000 per day, to contractors finishing work ahead of schedule; there may also be a penalty for work not completed on schedule.

When the sidewalks on each side of the street are torn up and paved temporarily, there also will be an 8-foot-tall chain link fence with green mesh to protect people from the construction. Martin said there might be LED rope lights atop the fence to illuminate the sidewalk, and he said artwork can be hung from the fence.

Communication is always the key with these types of projects, Martin said. He will act as a liaison, along with City Manager Nate Rudy, and will facilitate conversations among residents, business owners and contractors.

Information will be posted on the department’s website and its Facebook page. There will be email alerts, newspaper ads and weekly contractor updates. The department also will use the Hallowell Board of Trade’s communication network.

The project will be advertised to contractors beginning Jan. 31. Martin said bids will be opened Feb. 21. The department works with pre-qualified contractors, so the winning contractor will be chosen based on the lowest bid.

“We’ll open the bids and know who the apparent low bidder is. Then our contract folks go through the bids to make sure everybody has all the necessary documents and paperwork filed,” he said.

After the bidding process is complete, there will be a public meeting in Hallowell with the winning contractor before the project begins.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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