Cumberland to seek bids for rebuilding Middle Road

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Monday unanimously authorized going out to bid for what is expected to be a $3.2 million rebuilding of most of Middle Road.

The council also voted to allow snowmobiles in the Town Forest this winter, and heard a report on upcoming construction of a 4-mile double railroad track.

The bid approval allows engineering firm Sevee & Mahar to advertise the project next month, with bids to be opened Dec. 12. The council in February unanimously approved borrowing up to $3.2 million for the project, a cost that included Sevee & Mahar’s $127,000 contract, as well as inspection, change orders and contingency.

“We’re in a process now of getting ready to get in the front of the line for bidding for next spring,” Town Manager Bill Shane said, noting that the project should go to a 20-year bond by early January.

The project will comprise the approximately 8,200-foot stretch of Middle Road that runs from Tuttle Road to the Falmouth town line, parallel to U.S. Route 1 and Interstate 295. Pavement will be removed in some sections and gravel will be added. In other sections of the road, all material will be removed down to the sub-grade.

The entire road will have 5-foot paved shoulders – compared to intermittent  gravel shoulders now in place – and 11-foot travel lanes, for an entire width of 32 feet, Shane said. The travel lane widths will be about the same.

Also installed will be 4,200 feet of water line – extending the Middle Road line coming south off Tuttle Road – as well as natural gas piping for the full extent of the stretch, to be funded by Summit Natural Gas.

The manager hopes for construction to begin in April, depending on the severity of the winter, and for base paving to be complete next November. Final paving would occur in spring 2018.

One lane of traffic will always be open during the project, although motorists passing through will be encouraged to use alternatives such as U.S. Route 1.

“It’s a big commuter route in the morning right into Falmouth, and to Portland as well,” Shane said. “So we hope we can get people educated soon.”

Other business

The Town Council on Monday also unanimously voted to allow snow machines in the Town Forest, praising the work of the Moonlight Skimmers Snowmobile Club in grooming the trail and using it safely in concert with hikers.

The panel heard a report as well on a 4-mile double railroad track that will be constructed in 2017-18. The $9.3 million project – running north from about 1,000 feet east of Field Road in Falmouth to northeast of Greely Road in Cumberland, tying in east of Royal Junction in Yarmouth – is meant to expand rail operations between Brunswick and Boston. Faster Downeaster passenger trains will be able to overtake freight rail moving in the same direction.

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

Reconstruction of a stretch of Middle Road in Cumberland, running from Tuttle Road south to the Falmouth town line, is scheduled for next year.

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.