BATH, Maine — The rebuilt viaduct that carries Route 1 over a section of Bath will open within the next week, nearly one month ahead of schedule, the Maine Department of Transportation announced Friday.
The viaduct, which carries Route 1 over local streets and the Central Maine and Quebec Railway lines before connecting to the Sagadahoc Bridge over the Kennebec River, closed in October and traffic has been rerouted through the city.
Contractors, led by Reed & Reed Construction of Woolwich, expect to complete laying the membrane, paving, and striping the surface of the new viaduct in order to reopen the roadway to traffic before May 5, according to a release.
Reed & Reed was “provided significant incentives and disincentives to stay within” the original schedule, according to the MDOT, and was allowed to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The old viaduct was demolished in November. By January, southbound motorists struggled to navigate a temporary “zipper” traffic pattern into downtown Bath, particularly when shift changes at nearby Bath Iron Works added hundreds of vehicles to the mix.
The frustration prompted one driver to create bumper stickers stating, “I survived the zippah! #bath viaduct,” which she sold for $3 on Facebook.
The work will have taken fewer than 200 days, a fraction of the 729-day construction of the original viaduct nearly 60 years ago, according to MDOT spokesman Ted Talbot.
The new viaduct has a life expectancy of 80 years or more.
Crews will continue work on streets and roads underneath and adjacent to the viaduct through July, including landscaping medians, building 1,600 feet of new sidewalks, installing granite curbing and paving and striping streets.
“With new traffic signals, pedestrian crossings and under-bridge lighting, the end result is going to be a great improvement for downtown Bath,” MDOT resident engineer Glenn Philbrook said in the release.
Final work is scheduled to last through July, with “minimal” traffic impacts and land closures.
Talbot said Friday that the project is on track to meet the anticipated $15 million budget.