BANGOR, Maine — If you thought road construction turned some Bangor streets into ugly traffic snarls in 2016, wait until you see what work is planned for this year.
City Engineer John Theriault on Monday ranked the most challenging of the nearly two dozen road improvement projects set for this spring and summer.
“You can’t make these things easy or please everyone,” Theriault said Monday. “The thing is, the work has to be done. There’s no getting around it.”
By challenging, Theriault means that the following list of projects are most likely to slow traffic, inconvenience businesses and residents living along the targeted roadways, or cause motorists to take time-absorbing alternate routes.
— The repaving of Broadway from Center Street to Husson Avenue for $872,612. Called a “mill and fill,” the road’s pavement will be shaved down and replaced on Broadway, also known as Route 15, from the Center Street intersection north about seven-tenths of a mile.
Done mostly at night, the work is expected to take about 10 weeks. The project is still being designed. It will have a heavy impact upon city motorists because Broadway is easily Bangor’s most trafficked route, with five lanes and a volume of more than 25,000 vehicles a day, Theriault said. Sidewalk work also will occur.
Repavings on Broadway “always create havoc with business,” said Paul Winkler, owner of Tri-City Pizza, which is located at Center and Broadway. “People get confused on what lane they’re supposed to be in. The construction crews will still have barriers up in the morning. But it’s got to happen, and every business puts up with it.”
The Bangor Water District replaced water mains on Broadway in the same area last year, a project that accidentally caused temporary flooding in Tri-City, Jiffy Print and another business, said Mark Grandchamp, Jiffy Print’s owner. The work left the road’s painted lane markers indistinct and bumpy.
“I don’t foresee a big impact on my business from” the repaving, Grandchamp said Monday. “Hopefully when it is done, it will help traffic. The way it is now, you can’t see which lane is which.”
Theriault will meet with the City Council infrastructure committee on Feb. 14 to discuss the Broadway repaving and what recommendations councilors might want implemented from a 2015 study of Broadway traffic. A public meeting will follow in later February, he said. No date has been set.
“I don’t think we’ll hear a lot of complaints about this work,” Theriault said. “I think a lot of people will be happy to see us out there because the road is in terrible condition.
— The upgrading of utilities on Hammond Street, between Main and High streets, for $1.6 million. A city project, several water mains will be replaced and utilities, including communications conduits, will go underground on Hammond. About 1,000 feet of Hammond will be disturbed as the contractor SE McMillian of Bangor handles the work.
Theriault expects detours and lane closures to alter traffic. City workers will put out flashing message boards before the work starts in mid-March to help motorists plan accordingly. The work is expected to conclude by September but might finish earlier, Theriault said.
— The repaving of Columbia Street. This project, which has yet to go to bid, excites Theriault a little bit. As part of it, Emera Maine likely will place utilities underground, ridding the area of utility poles and wires, which he finds much more utilitarian than attractive.
“Columbia is a beautiful street,” Theriault said, “and doesn’t get as much attention as it should.”
— The replacement of a retaining wall on Park Street for $1.6 million. Located directly behind City Hall, the wall is as old as the building itself and is bowed out about 1½ feet, Theriault said.
Theriault hopes that the wall will hold and the replacement will not necessitate the closing of Park Street for more than a few days, if at all, he said.
Traffic will likely go one-way while the work is done.
— The upgrading of sewers on French Street from Somerset to State streets. French Street is far from the city’s longest or most trafficked arteries, but don’t tell its residents that this won’t be a large project. To them, it will have a large impact indeed, Theriault said.