FALMOUTH, Maine — The overhaul of U.S. Route 1 is entering its final phase and town officials say work will likely conclude ahead of schedule and under budget.
Public Works Director Jay Reynolds said work resumed incrementally about three weeks ago after a short winter break, when utility companies began installing cables into the underground conduit systems that were installed last fall. He said the general contractor for the site, Sargent Corp., is waiting for the utility to work to be finished before proceeding.
“From there we’ll be tying in all the businesses to the underground system,” Reynolds said.
He said the town has reached out to business owners along Route 1 to discuss when would be the best time to change over to the new system without disrupting business.
“Each business will have its own date and we’re coordinating those directly with them,” he said. “We’re looking at the middle to end of May to probably start that process.”
The work would begin at the south end of Route 1 and make its way north.
The long-planned, $12.3 million project, which began last spring, will make several improvements along the approximately one-mile stretch of road. It includes zoning changes that allow new buildings to be constructed closer to the road; relaxed height restrictions, so up to four-story buildings can be built; shared parking standards to allow for more development; beautification and improved landscaping; new sidewalks and median islands; a sewer main project; underground placement of communications cables, and other projects as well.
Town Manager Nathan Poore said in addition to the cables now being laid, several above-ground projects are being finished as well, including new traffic signal mast arms that will be “cleaner and neater” without overhead wires. He also said trees will be planted, construction of islands, sidewalks and crosswalks will occur, and street lights will be installed.
“There are 23 full-height street lights going in,” Poore said, as well as nearly 60 “pedestrian” lights, which are shorter, to line the roadways and new sidewalks.
“The largest of the remaining things to do is the repaving of Route 1 through the project area, which will happen sometime in July,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said winter did not cause delays or setbacks, and work continued into December. He said the initial completion date with paving was mid-September, so things are are slightly ahead of schedule.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is get in there and get out of there as quick as possible, provide as little disruption to businesses as possible,” Reynolds said.
He said paving will likely be done at non-peak hours, during evenings and possibly overnights.
Poore added while businesses will likely see some level of disruption during the final phases of construction, it will be far less than what they saw last year. He said the town has heard from businesses concerned with reminding customers they are still open during construction, which has prompted the town to fund a marketing campaign.
“That includes print materials [and] posters that are going up in businesses. … We’ve purchased access to 30,000 emails, we’re going to send out a blast of emails in the region to let [customers] know you can still dine and shop and conduct all your services in Falmouth,” Poore said.
Additionally, on Friday, May 1, from 6-10 a.m., WJBQ radio will be broadcasting live from Route 1.
Poore said the marketing campaign, run by local company Words at Work, will cost around $20,000.
Poore and Reynolds said the entire project, which was slated to cost $12.3 million, will likely come in at or slightly under budget. Poore said it will not be over budget.
“We’re trending under budget,” Reynolds said. “That amount remains to be seen, but we’re thinking it will be close.”