A pedestrian crosses Main Street in downtown Waterville on June 3. Installation of water mains precedes the planned conversion of one-way streets into two-way streets. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file Buy this Photo

WATERVILLE — Public input is being sought on an $11.294 million project to change downtown Waterville to two-way traffic, reconfigure parking, and improve sidewalks and pedestrian walkways.

The state Department of Transportation has posted a virtual meeting online that details the project and DOT and city officials will respond to public comments and questions.

City Manager Michael Roy said Wednesday that city and DOT officials hope to get input before the city puts the project out to bid in October.

“Anybody can go on at any time and pose questions — ask a question or make a comment about the project — and the city or DOT will answer,” Roy said.

The virtual presentation, which the DOT made available Monday at www.maine.gov/mdot/vpi/, is open for public comment until Sept. 4.

Ernie Martin, DOT’s senior project manager who is overseeing the work, says in the presentation that Waterville will manage the project during construction.

Construction is anticipated to begin in April 2021 and will include road detours, temporary closures, one-way and alternating one-lane traffic patterns and night closures, according to Martin. The project is expected to be completed in July or August 2022, he said.

Funding for the project includes a $7.3 million federal BUILD grant the city received, $1 million from the city, $1.5 million from Colby College and private donors, and $1.3 million in state funding.

“The project is to improve traffic flow through downtown Waterville and increase pedestrian safety, to make enhancements to the public realm, to foster long-term growth and to continue the development of the downtown area as stipulated in Waterville’s 2016 downtown revitalization framework,” Martin says in the presentation.

Two downtown streets, Main and Front, will be converted from single-direction traffic to two-way traffic, improvements will be made to five intersections, sidewalks will be reconstructed and major public spaces enhanced to promote accessibility and walkability throughout the downtown, the presentation says.

Besides Martin, the presentation includes talks by Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro; Matt Philbrick, a DOT highway designer; Al Godfrey of TMSI Engineers, speaking about signal and highway lighting; Marcel Young-Scaggs, a DOT designer who speaks about changes and improvements to be made related to the Americans with Disabilities Act; and Julie Senk, cultural coordinator for the DOT, detailing historical features of the project. Heath Cowan, program manager for DOT’s property office, discusses the right-of-way process.

Isgro says that six years ago the process to revitalize and reenergize downtown Waterville began, and more than a year ago, funding was secured to make it happen.

“What this means for you is a completely new and redesigned downtown,” Isgro says. “Infrastructure, streets, sidewalks, pedestrian safety, aesthetics — everything is going to be completely overhauled..”

Philbrick discusses roadway design for Main, Spring, Front, Chaplin and Colby streets, as well as College Avenue and corresponding intersections.

Both Main and Front streets will be converted from one-way traffic to two-way. Roads and sidewalks will be completely reconstructed, and existing angle parking on Main Street will be removed and replaced by parallel parking, according to Philbrick.

“This is much safer and will allow for wider sidewalks with improved pedestrian facilities,” he said.

Signals at the intersection of Main and Temple streets will be replaced and modified for two-way traffic as part of another, separate BUILD grant, Philbrick said.

“This is a statewide project that will replace 104 existing signals, including two on the Waterville downtown project,” he said. “The signals at the intersection of Main Street, Spring Street, Water Street and Front Street are also being replaced as part of the statewide signal BUILD grant. The intersection is being modified to accommodate two-way traffic at Main and Front streets. The intersection will have many pedestrian improvements as well as a green space in front of the new Lockwood Hotel.”

Front Street will be designated as U.S. Route 201, Philbrick said. The top layer of pavement on the road will be removed and replaced. Sidewalk and pedestrian improvements will be made, a new signal installed and site distance improvements created at the intersection of Temple and Front streets, according to Philbrick.

The intersection of Front, Chaplin and Colby streets and College Avenue will be realigned to accommodate the new two-way traffic pattern on Front Street, he said.

“College Avenue will be realigned to a T-intersection and will be signalized,” he said. “Colby and Chaplin will be realigned with new approaches as well.”

Godfrey said traffic signals will be installed on Front Street where it intersects with Temple Street. There is no signal at that intersection now. A traffic signal also will be installed at the new intersection of College Avenue and Front, near the police station.

All new sidewalk lighting will be installed downtown, from the new Lockwood Hotel on Main Street to Elm Street. The LED fixtures will be similar to existing fixtures. New highway lighting will also be installed in several areas.

In 2018, the federal government announced that Waterville was awarded the $7.37 million federal grant, targeted at downtown revitalization. Funding was 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.

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