WATERVILLE — The public will have a chance on Tuesday to see a preliminary design for future downtown improvements, such as changing traffic from one-way to two-way on Main and Front streets, to be made as part of a $7.37 million federal BUILD grant the city was awarded late last year.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at The Elm at 21 College Ave. and will be hosted by the city, Colby College, Kennebec Water District and the state Department of Transportation.

Representatives from each of those entities will be available to answer questions and hear comments or concerns about the project as well as the Water District’s plans to replace water mains downtown next summer. That work is not part of the BUILD grant.

The traffic pattern work as part of the grant is expected to occur in the summer of 2021, according to City Manager Michael Roy, who encourages people to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Mike Roy

“While this is not the last opportunity for people to ask questions, it is an important meeting in helping the city and MeDOT finalize the design,” Roy said in an email. “This project is going forward so people need to start paying attention to the details.”

Plans for the BUILD grant include changing one-way traffic on Main and Front streets to two-way, changing and improving intersections, reconfiguring parking and working on loading zone problems.

The city received the BUILD grant from the Federal Highway Administration. Ernie Martin, senior project manager for the state transportation department, is overseeing the project.

A public open house for the project was held earlier this summer so that downtown property owners, business people and others could see draft plans, comment and ask questions.

Researching the feasibility of having two-way traffic on Front and Main streets has been talked about for several years amid downtown revitalization discussions spearheaded by Colby College and the city. The discussions follow the completion of a landmark mixed-use residential complex on Main Street downtown, the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons. Construction has started on Colby’s Lockwood Hotel at the other end of the street downtown.

The BUILD grant is part of $26.6 million awarded to Maine projects through the BUILD program, previously known as TIGER, to help improve infrastructure, create jobs, reduce traffic congestion and increase safety. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, was instrumental in helping to secure the grant for Waterville.

Roger Crouse, general manager of the Kennebec Water District, told the City Council on June 4 that the pipes downtown have not been replaced in about 100 years. The project area will include Main, Common, Temple, Appleton, Hathaway and Front streets. He said the design work for the project had started and the Water District is working with the DOT. The design work will continue until the end of December, and the project will be put out to bid in December or January, according to Crouse.

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