One-way traffic moves through downtown Waterville on June 5, 2019, on Main Street. At a meeting Maine Department of Transportation Highway program officials explained plans to turn the street into a two-way street. Now those plans will take shape as construction on the project begins March 15. Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — A long-anticipated $11.27 million project to change the traffic pattern on Main and Front streets and improve sidewalks and intersections is planned start March 15.

The work will kick off with the removal of islands at the intersection of Bridge, Water, Main and Front streets.

The Maine Department of Transportation issued a notice Friday to businesses and business owners in the immediate downtown area with information about the BUILD grant project, including a schedule of the contractor’s plan for work in 2021 and 2022. The project is expected to be completed in 2022.

The contractor for the project, Crooker Construction Inc. of Topsham, will issue bi-weekly project updates, to be posted on the city’s website, www.waterville-me.gov. The Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce will also help get the word out about construction schedules.

As part of the project, roads will be reconstructed, intersections improved and realigned, and existing roadway drainage improved. Main Street will be landscaped with new granite curbs, lights, concrete and brick paver sidewalks and crosswalks, and trees.

The removal of the islands at Bridge, Front, Main and Water streets March 15 will allow traffic to maneuver through streets as the approaches to the intersections are reconfigured, according to the notice DOT issued.

“All traffic routes will be maintained, and no detours or closures are planned at this time,” it says. “Some of this work will occur at night so as not to disrupt through traffic to and from Winslow. Temporary traffic signals will be placed in the intersections to allow removal of the old signals while the approaches get reconfigured.”

Work will start in May and June on Main Street, between Bridge and Temple streets, and some improvements will be made along Front Street. Traffic will be open to at least one lane at all times and access to businesses will be maintained.

The comprehensive project is being launched to address traffic, parking and pedestrian safety concerns throughout the downtown, according to officials. The DOT, Colby College, and downtown businesses and building owners are partnering on the project, which primarily is funded by a $7.3 million BUILD Grant the city received from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

While driveway and business access will be maintained throughout construction, there may be periods of time when a side street, driveway or business access is temporarily blocked by construction operations. The contractor will issue a notice at least 24 hours before any such closures occur.

Throughout the remainder of 2021 work will be completed on Main Street with workers doing one side of the street at a time, from Bridge Street to Temple Street. Work on Main Street, from Temple Street to College Avenue, is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022. The realignment of Front Street and College Avenue also will be done in 2022. In the fall of that year, the final two-way traffic flow will be in place.

“Work will occur Monday through Friday, sunrise to sunset,” the DOT notice says. “Some Saturday work will occur for critical operations. Some 24-hour workdays will occur from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. Work is currently not scheduled for Sundays. No work will take place on holidays.”

Construction operations will require limited vehicle traffic to and from the downtown area. During construction activities, work will be done to minimize traffic conflicts and provide access to properties abutting the project.

Those who have questions during the project may call the city at 680-4232. If a problem occurs after normal working hours, they may contact the police department at 680-4700.

The city plans to work with the community to lessen impacts during construction, and the public will have access to information on the city’s website, waterville-me.gov, according to city officials. People also may sign up for email and text alerts from the DOT website, MaineDOT, and sign up to receive alerts and any updates to Waterville Downtown Page, at www.maine.gov/mdot/projects//waterville/downtown. The Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce also will have a network of communication.

The BUILD project construction is taking place while Colby is working on and completed other projects in the downtown. The college has built the $26 million Lockwood Hotel and restaurant and the $25.5 million Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, both on Main Street. It bought and renovated the former Waterville Savings Bank building at the corner of Appleton and Main streets for $5 million, and is in the midst of developing the $6.5 million Arts Collaborative, also on Main Street.

This spring, Colby and Waterville Creates! plan to break ground on the $18 to $20 million Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street.

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