Bath public works projects tackle water, traffic problems

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BATH — The city is addressing traffic, water and sewer problems this summer with new pipelines along Central Avenue and Centre Street, and construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Congress Avenue and State Road.

A public information meeting on the Hyde Park Pump Station water main extension on Central Avenue, and on the Centre Street road reconstruction and utility upgrade, will be held at the City Hall auditorium at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20.

The force main extension, which started in June and is expected to continue through next month, involves upgrading a pressurized waste-water pipeline that leads from the Hyde Park pump station on Drayton Road to a manhole near the Bath Area Family YMCA entrance on Centre Street. Reno’s Excavation is the contractor for the approximately $328,000 project.

Public Works Director Peter Owen said the existing pipeline is undersized, and the growth of the Wing Farm Business Park off Congress Avenue will add extra pressure to that system.

“It just clearly is too small and too old,” he said.

The Centre Street project, beginning later this month and culminating in November, involves replacement of a water main running east from the end of Bluff Road to increase capacity. The Hyde Park force main will also be extended east from the entrance of the YMCA to High Street, where it will discharge into a different collection area and flow to the Commercial Street pump station.

The extension is meant to alleviate the amount of discharge going into a collection area near the YMCA entrance. Excess discharge has resulted in overflows in the Park Street neighborhood.

“We want to take the load off the area that is not handling it, and put it in an area that has capacity,” Owen said.

As part of the project, handled by Harry C. Crooker & Sons, storm-water catch basins will be separated from the sanitary sewer system. The sidewalks and roadway along Centre Street will also be rebuilt and improved after the new pipelines are installed. Final paving will occur next spring.

The nearly $937,000 project is partly funded by a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant, while the city and Bath Water District are paying the rest.

“It’s a real win-win project, because we’re doing sewer improvements, water improvements, we’re also doing improvements that are going to affect … overflow situations, plus we have federal funds to help us pay for it,” Owen said. “And we’ll be improving a major gateway to the city.”

The roundabout project, scheduled to begin July 20 and costing nearly $522,000, should be complete by mid-October. Traffic will be maintained in the work area, but will be slowed.

“The whole flow of traffic is going to have to be reoriented while they do blasting, (and) while they put in storm drain pipes,” Owen said.

A one-lane traffic circle design will replace the existing T-style intersection, where heavy traffic can make it difficult for drivers to turn from Congress Avenue onto State Road.

“(The roundabout) is going to increase the traffic capacity by 42 percent,” Owen said. “… This provides an equal opportunity for everybody entering the roundabout.”

He noted that there may be two or three vehicles queued for the roundabout, “but you’re not going to have 12 or 15 like we have now.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.