Belgrade Lakes traffic is back to being bottled up — but hopefully for only a little more than a month.

The village is bordered on two sides by Great Pond and Long Pond, funneling Route 27 traffic through a narrow stretch of land. Road work resumed Tuesday on a half-mile section from the intersection with West Road to the Mill Stream bridge at the north end of the village. 

The Maine Department of Transportation work was halted during the town’s busy summer months when congestion was high. 

The completion date is Oct. 19, according to Department of Transportation Senior Project Manager Ernie Martin.

“I think we are all looking forward to getting to the finishing line so we can leave town and so the town can enjoy the new roadway,” Martin said. 

Resident Val Hudspath walked the new sidewalks Friday after picking up her mail at the post office.

“The sidewalks were bumpy, and it was hard for people to find parking,” she said. “I think overall it is a big improvement … and they were gracious enough to stop in the summer.”

The reconstruction project brought concern in 2016 when residents and local business owners worried about the effect construction would have during the tourist-critical summer. In response to that concern, the state and town negotiated stop the project in July and August. 

The reconstruction work started in spring 2018, with breaks made for holidays and the busy summer tourist season. 

“All of our summer customers thought it was wonderful,” Diane Oliver said Friday. She and her family own Day’s Store, a general store that has been in the town since 1958. “It is going to be a lot more functional for everybody.”

During the project, Martin said, travelers will experience some alternating, one-way traffic patterns — especially during the paving. 

“You will have to expect some sort of delays here and there, but it will be intermittent,” he said.

Immediately, crews will be finishing brick sidewalks, pouring foundations for pedestrian lighting and installing those light fixtures, Martin said. Once the surface pavement is completed, they will blend driveways, plant trees and work on catch basins. 

The biggest impact to the traveling public will be during surface paving, he said. 

“I am not sure when that date will be,” he said. “It will not be until (crews) get through this superficial stuff.”

In a press release issued by Paul Merrill, public information officer for MDOT, those tentative dates of paving could be Sept. 16 and 17.

“It is safer, more walkable,” said Oliver, who is also a member of the Friends of Belgrade Lakes Village. “I think everyone is happy with the outcome.”

The town of Belgrade and the Friends organization contributed around $1 million to the $3.7 million project. The DOT contracted Pratt & Sons Inc. of Mechanic Falls; construction costs around $3.1 million.

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