HALLOWELL — With downtown construction winding down, city business owners called Water Street “beautiful” and hoped the changes would stimulate the city’s economy this summer.

A Maine Department of Transportation official said major construction will be done by Friday, but workers will remain into next week, completing a few remaining tasks outside of the main scope of work.

Dom’s Barber Shop owner Patti Burnett said “there’s no stopping” people from coming downtown, adding that wider sidewalks and the absence of a construction crew could encourage more visitors.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “If I was an out-of-stater, I would feel safe and very welcome.”

Burnett said the crew from Sargent and officials from the transportation department did an excellent job communicating with business owners during construction.

Boynton’s Market co-owner Don Lachance told the Kennebec Journal in August 2018 that he had to take a pay cut because business was slow during construction. On Wednesday, he said that the renovated downtown could draw in visitors just to see what it looks like now.

“Hopefully, we’ll see an uptick in business,” Lachance said. “We took the hit; now we can see the benefit.”

On Thursday, workers were placing bricks in the once-controversial stretch of sidewalk past the Lucky Garden restaurant. Lucky Garden owners Tony and Annie Huang did not respond to a request for comment about construction.

Sargent Corp. workers remove gravel Thursday from railroad tracks that had been used as a parking lot during the Water Street reconstruction project in Hallowell. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Workers also were digging up gravel placed over railroad tracks between Central Street and Winthrop Street that served as a parking lot while downtown spots were compromised by construction. Transportation department Project Resident Karen Libby said the transportation department always has planned to uncover the tracks, which eliminates 23 available parking spots.

Libby said final work will just be small repairs or cleanup jobs, which she cataloged on a two-page handwritten list. She said transportation department officials will do a final walk-through to make sure work is done properly at the end of the project.

“It just looks really cool now that the striping is done,” Libby said. “Everybody’s really been good (to work with).”

Libby said another interesting facet of the project was watching downtown businesses make improvements to their exteriors. One such shop is Slates Bakery, which is sporting a new yellow-and-purple paint job. Along with sprucing up the exterior, Dotti Galley, the bakery’s manager, said the restaurant is getting ready for summer by setting up outdoor seating.

She said the paint job might have been influenced by the end of construction, but she could not be certain.

“We’re always trying to make everything pretty,” Galley said, “but I suspect a little bit was because the street looks so nice.”

Mayor Mark Walker said he was “very excited” by how the project turned out. He said the city is now easier to get around and it could help events downtown, such as Old Hallowell Day, gather more attendees.

“The look and feel of the city remains what it has been, but with … cleaner visuals,” Walker said. “We are much more accommodating to visitors and traffic.”

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