Construction of the first phase of Presque Isle’s Route 1 bypass is moving ahead mostly on schedule, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

Through the swings in winter weather, Madawaska-based contractor Ed Pelletier & Sons has been working on the first 1.48 mile section of the 7.5 mile bypass, which is expected to cost more than $60 million in total. The long-planned bypass is envisioned as a roadway around Route 1 in downtown Presque Isle for large trucks, such as those bound for the Huber Engineered Woods and McCain Foods factories in Easton.

This winter, construction crews have been clearing and excavating the first section’s path between Conant and Fort roads, including a 40-foot clearing through ledge, and they also are waiting for Emera Maine to set new electrical poles in areas along the route, said Beecher Whitcomb, project manager with the Department of Transportation.

“The only part of the project we are behind is the setting of new poles by Emera,” Whitcomb said.

The contractor will have to remove at least nine discontinued electrical poles, “but Emera needs to set the new poles and then run their transmission and distribution lines, followed by cable and telephone, before we can remove the old poles and lines,” Whitcomb said.

The utility pole replacement also needs to be finished before the crews can begin work on a new bridge for State Street crossing over the bypass, Whitcomb said.

Under the $7.9 million contract for this phase of the bypass, Ed Pelletier & Sons is authorized to close State Street for only six months to construct the bridge, Whitcomb said. If the work exceeds six months, the contractor will lose some revenue, he said.

“The plan was to close May through October, but this will depend on if the new pole work can be completed before May 1,” Whitcomb said.

The first phase of the bypass will cost $14 million in total, with $7.9 million for construction and the rest for compensating affected property owners, planning and inspection, Whitcomb said. Twenty properties were impacted by the route of the first phase of the bypass, including four residential properties that were acquired by the Department of Transportation.

Construction of the first phase is expected to be finished by November 2018, and it will open with the full bypass in 2020 or later, Whitcomb said.

In 2018, the Department of Transportation will seek another round of bids from contractors for the second and final phase of the bypass, connecting Route 1 in the southern part of Presque Isle with Route 10 in Easton and the northern section of the bypass.

The agency has not finalized the route or the budget for this approximately 5-mile section, though it will likely cost in the range of $50 million, Whitcomb said. The northeasterly path of the final section would travel through severals parcels of farmland and could involve four bridges, he said.