Bath viaduct project ahead of schedule

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BATH — Originally expected to wrap up by Memorial Day, reconstruction of the viaduct that carries U.S. Route 1 traffic over the heart of the city could conclude about two weeks ahead of schedule.

If the weather cooperates, the viaduct could reopen May 10, Maine Department of Transportation Resident Engineer Glenn Philbrook said in an interview March 2.

Project updates are posted at maine.gov/mdot/projects/bathviaduct/news.

The bridge-like structure closed last October for a seven-month reconstruction project. Motorists have been diverted to “frontage roads,” including Leeman Highway and Commercial Street.

Three final spans on the structure should be in place by March 10, and curbs are to be installed by March 20, Philbrook said.

“All those individual beam segments have to be fused together, and we’re going to be starting that … the 27th of March,” he said.

Traffic delays due to re-routing motorists have become minimal – down to 5 minutes even at peak hours – Philbrook said, explaining that the cause of delays early in the project was improper timing of traffic signals, an issue that has been resolved.

“People now, when they come by and they honk their horns, they’re giving us thumbs up,” he said. “They’re pretty happy, and they get to see the progress every day.”

The original two-lane structure, erected in 1958, stretched a quarter mile, from High Street to the Sagadahoc Bridge, and ran past Bath Iron Works. It was last closed in 2007, when a new surface was applied.

It should be a while before motorists have to endure another viaduct reconstruction, since this one is designed to last 75 to 100 years.

The total construction cost has been about $14 million, according to DOT Project Manager Joel Kittredge. Federal and state funds have gone into the project.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Reconstruction of Bath’s viaduct could wrap up in mid-May, two weeks earlier than planned.

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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.