HALLOWELL — Maine Department of Transportation Project Manager Ernie Martin answered questions and spoke with residents and business owners for more than an hour Wednesday night during the last DOT-hosted public meeting before the Water Street reconstruction project begins in April.

Around 50 people attended the open house-style event, including Mayor Mark Walker and all seven councilors.

“I appreciate what the city’s done,” Martin said. “They’ve been right in the trenches with us.”

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 mile north of Winthrop Street and extending 0.42 mile 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 might 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.

Some of the questions to Martin were about construction vehicles and construction workers and where they’ll be parked during the work. Martin said vehicles probably will remain mostly in the area of Water Street being reconstructed at the time because that part of the street will be closed. He said the contractor probably will work out an agreement with a local property owner for parking for workers.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Martin said of the entire project. “The whole city is going to be affected.”

The plan hasn’t changed much since it was announced more than two years ago, which Martin called “remarkable.” It 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 scheduled 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 Martin said he couldn’t go into specifics. 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.

With the incentives, and depending on how hard the winning contractor attacks the work, Martin said, there is a chance everything gets competed ahead of schedule. He cautioned people to not get their hopes us and set unrealistic expectations.

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 next step in the process is to advertise the project 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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