Initial work beginning to replace Bath viaduct

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BATH — On the heels of Memorial Day will come not just summer tourists, but also the beginning of a project to reconstruct the viaduct that carries U.S. Route 1 traffic over the city.

While the viaduct is not due to close until October, the initial phase of work in the meantime will include excavation and drainage work on Leeman Highway, first in the area under the High Street Bridge, then toward the Washington Street intersection beneath the Quebec Railway and Central Maine lines.

Traffic shifts during the project, including lane closures and delays, are expected, and work zone signs, cones, and barrels will guide motorists and pedestrians around project areas, according to a May 26 Maine Department of Transportation press release.

Drainage improvements will take place during the summer along frontage roads – Leeman Highway, and Commercial and Vine streets – while the viaduct stays open. Traffic shifts will be mostly confined to the southbound side of Leeman Highway, between High and Franklin streets. Access to downtown Bath will be maintained.

Log onto mainedot.gov and sign up for email alerts for information on the current and subsequent phases.

The second phase, running from Oct. 11 until just before Memorial Day 2017, will involve closing the viaduct. Most traffic will be rerouted to the frontage roads as the existing viaduct is demolished and a new one is constructed.

The third and final phase will be done from Memorial Day 2017 to the following month, when the new viaduct will open, and crosswalks, striping, curbing and landscaping will be finished.

The two-lane viaduct is a quarter mile long, from High Street to the Sagadahoc Bridge, running past Bath Iron Works. Built in 1958, the structure was last closed in 2007, re-routing traffic to Leeman Highway and Commercial Street, while a new surface was applied.

The total project costs $15.1 million, including $1.9 million for preliminary engineering, $12.7 million for construction and $500,000 for construction engineering, project manager Joel Kittredge said in January. Federal and state funds are going into the project.

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

The viaduct that carries U.S. Route 1 over the heart of Bath will be closed later this year for reconstruction.

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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.