WATERVILLE – The change from one-way traffic to two-way traffic on Main and Front Streets in downtown has been delayed for about two weeks due to drainage issues at the two intersections that need to be corrected.
City Manager Steve Daley announced at a city council meeting early this month that the change to both directions would be on November 5, with the ribbon cutting the day before the ceremony, but the ribbon cutting was moved to November 18 and officials estimate the traffic change will happen earlier. During that week of November 14th.
The main reason for the delay was that improper drainage at the intersections of Main Street and Temple Street, as well as Main Street and Appleton Streets in the city centre, allowed water to flow across the road instead of into the parapets. Three private collection ponds must be installed, according to city engineer Andy McPherson.
“Because of this, we had to stop the paving,” McPherson said Friday. “We didn’t want to pave the way and then cut it off the next day.”
Daly said Friday that US Senator Susan Collins will address the ceremony, which is set to begin at 3 p.m. Nov. 18 on the south patio outside the Lockwood Hotel. The event is expected to end around 5 p.m
Garvan Donegan of the Maine Central Growth Board will perform. State representatives and Kimberly N. Lindelof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, will be there. Colby College President David Green has been invited, but his schedule has yet to be confirmed, according to Daley.
“It would be great to finish this project and I think people are going to have to go through a period of adjustment, both for pedestrians and motorists, because it will be a big, big change,” Daley said Friday.
He said signs will be put up to make people aware of the traffic pattern changes. The aesthetics of downtown would be very different, long after the public encountered construction vehicles and barricades on the main streets, according to Daly.
“When people drive down New Main Street, I think it’s going to be a jaw-dropper for them,” he said.
McPherson predicts that the transition to two-way traffic will go well.
“I think it should be very smooth as long as people pay attention to the signs and the lights,” he said.
The traffic change will mark the culmination of a two-year, $11.2 million downtown revitalization project by the city, Colby, and the state Department of Transportation that also included improving lanes, lighting, landscaping, and intersections.
Collins has advocated for federal funds to change the traffic pattern and make downtown improvements, and in 2018 announced that Waterville would receive a $7.37 million federal grant to change the direction of travel, improve intersections, update sidewalks, add ranches, install benches and complete a nearby RiverWalk at Head of Falls .
The grant was part of $26.6 million awarded to Maine projects through the BUILD program to help improve infrastructure, create jobs, reduce traffic congestion and increase safety, Collins said at the time.
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